Lawmakers to hear bills that would bring tax incentives for filmmakers in Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — As Carmel eyes their own film festival possibly in 2021, lawmakers are close to hearing two bills that could increase the odds of a Carmel-based movie popping up at the festival.

By the end of the month, state reps and senators could have a hearing over a bill that would bring tax incentives for filmmakers who want to make movies in Indiana. This has been tried before, but never in the Senate.

“I think we’ve got a good shot at it this year,” said lobbyist Tony Samuel. “There’s up to 38 states that offer incentives, and Indiana is missing out on millions and millions of products worth of dollars.”

Under the bill, filmmakers would have to spend at least $500,000 on their film and spend at least half of that money in state. They get breaks for using services and labor from local Hoosiers.

“This is a jobs bill, so we are trying to create an industry and grow the infrastructure. More sound stages, more jobs for caterers and lighting folks, and equipment rental, and on and on,” Samuel said. “You’re also going to be working with Indiana’s colleges and universities, 19 of which have film schools, but 65% of those graduates leave the state.”

“We’ve done a good job because we have a nice high-tech industry,” said Carmel city representative Dan McFeeley speaking about his city’s job market. “That next frontier is an entertainment industry.”

Carmel has been trying to get Hallmark to make a movie in town, particularly a Christmas film at their famous annual holiday market. The current incentive situation is forcing Carmel to get creative. This comes while they continue to plan for a future film festival in the city.

“The very first time we talked to [Hallmark] about it they raised the question, 'You know we do most our movies in Canada because the incentives up there are great,'” McFeeley said. “They said if, locally, you can make it work then we will definitely be open to a conversation.

Samuel says a bill hearing in the Senate or the House could come before the end of January. He says this latest push is about educating legislators and showing them the studies that prove the bill will make vast revenue for the state.

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