INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana was once the iconic landscape for movies like Rudy and Hoosiers, however today, filmmakers find it harder to produce movies in the state without tax incentives. New legislature aims to change that.
Republican House Representative Robert Morris is the latest Indiana legislator to propose a bill to create tax incentives for film creators. This isn’t the first attempt as prior legislation fell through time and time again. Filmmakers say it’s because the requirements were too specific.
“Very specific on how the tax credit is going to work. How much money there needs to be for it? What percentage the tax incentive needs to have?” listed John Armstrong with Bloomington based Pigasus Pictures. “That gets really messy when you are trying to go through different committees in state legislature.”
House Bill 1315 will empower the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to oversee all tax incentive applications from filmmakers. The organization already administers tax incentives for other industries, so the infrastructure is there.
The bill hopes to create jobs by giving production companies tax benefits if they hire Hoosiers on staff.
“Governor Eric Holcomb says it frequently. We are [a] state that works. We want to see Hoosiers come back here to Indiana to function and work,” said Representative Morris. “We are going to educate them here in Indiana, and we are going to get them employed here in Indiana in the future.”
“Nine times out of ten, if you study in Indiana, and you want to be a filmmaker, your future is outside of Indiana,” explained Armstrong.
This new legislative push comes at a booming time for moviemakers. With the expansion of streaming services, the outlets to produce content is growing by the day.
“What is exciting is we have three feature films releasing this year, and early part of next year,” said Armstrong. “Third film is called Runner and is directed by a wonderful female voice who won the Cannes Short Film Festival two years ago.”
Representative Morris sees this bill as a way to turn Indiana into a production hub by utilizing currently vacant spaces.
“Look at brownout communities where you have big box stores that have left. Hundreds of thousands of square feet that we can turn into production houses,” remarked Representative Morris. “North part of Indiana we have the dunes. We got the south part, and we have forest. You can shoot almost any setting in the world right here in the state of Indiana.”
“Literally any building in Indiana, not being used, could be converted into a movie studio easily,” agreed Armstrong. “There are old high schools, old malls, all over the country that have been converted into production studios. What I heard is Netflix needs ten times more production studio space than currently is available on the globe. There is a backlog of content that wants to be produced anywhere that there is a hospitable place to do it. Netflix is looking for places to film right now. With a limited amount of investment, you build it, and they will come.”
Representative Morris says the bill is now the hands of the House Ways and Means committee. He also says there is similar language being talked about in the senate. He is hopeful that the legislature will make it through before the end of this session.