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New legislature could bring Hollywood to Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – When thinking about iconic Indiana films, “Rudy” and “Hoosiers” often come to mind. Both movies were filmed in the state decades ago, but if they were made today would likely be done elsewhere. Legislators are pushing for new legislation to entice filmmakers to call Indiana home.

“We would have to shoot them in Ohio, Kentucky, or Illinois," said Angelo Pizzo, screenwriter and co-producer of “Hoosiers” and “Rudy.” "There are great Indiana stories that are not being shot here."

All three of those states give tax or rebate incentives to filmmakers, with Indiana one of only 15 states that doesn’t.

“In Cincinnati alone there were 10 feature films made over the last year-and-a-half, and only one was set in Cincinnati,” Pizzo said.

House Bill 1070 aims to bring Indiana into the mix by giving incentives. Supporters of the bill say the state has lost at least $80 million in film business since 2016, including the Netflix series "Madam Walker."

"They are shooting a $50 million mini-series that takes place in Indianapolis in Toronto," Pizzo said of "Madam Walker."

The proposed rebate system works on films that spend at least $500,000 in the state, and shoot half the film in Indiana.

“Then you will have an audit of the money you spent, and then you will get a check in return," Indianapolis Film Commissioner Teresa Sabatine said.

Filmmakers will get 20 percent back on expenditures, a 30 percent return for local labor, and 35 percent for interns and other development positions. To qualify as local labor, the worker must have lived in Indiana for six months.

“Unfortunately as we train these young people in the craft, and the art of making film, they are going to leave because there are no jobs here,” Pizzo said. 19 colleges in Indiana offer film and media studies, but Pizzo said roughly 60 percent leave.

Tennessee offered their rebate system to the show “Nashville.” Sabatine said the state raked in $480 million in tourism.

“You're seeing billboards in Tokyo and Japan with Nashville on the side. That’s just something you can’t buy with a traditional state marketing budget," Sabatine said.

New films hang in the balance. A $20 million movie on 90’s Notre Dame swim star Haley Scott is green lighted to shoot at the college. Scott was severely injured in a bus accident that also killed two of her teammates.

"Unfortunately if we don't pass this bill, we are going to lose that project to Illinois,” Sabatine said.

Supporters of the bill will meet with Senate fiscal leaders to educate them on how it works. They hope to have it put into budget considerations by the end of the session.

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