This past Wednesday my partner and I headed to the Save Film In Arizona meeting, presented by the Arizona Film and Media Coalition, Inc., in collaboration with The Phoenix Film Festival, Tucson Film Office, IFASA and many other groups. It was a great meeting despite the haboob of the day, blazing heat that my vehicle's cooling system objected to enduring.
The bill presented to the last legislative session is dead and gone. Seems it lost out to another industry that was also pitching the legislature for a tax credit. Now it's back to ground zero.
A new bill will be drafted. And if this bill is to have any real chance competing against other industries, a lobbyist will likely be needed. Present at the meeting was Barry Aarons, a lobbyist who did work with the last bill. His insights into the process were enlightening, but mostly, to get a lobbyist to do this right a lobbyist will need to be hired (cue evocative organ music and collection baskets) probably in the range of $30K.
So, if you want the tax credit in Arizona (yes, you do if you're in the biz), you can donate by going to http://azfilmandmedia.org/afmc/donations/
Barry suggested once the bill is written:Write e-mails to your legislators. Be nice and stop short of threatening them with censure or worse. Thank them. And write a lot of e-mails, just not all on one day. Handwritten letters are even more potent. Write those. Pull out your media connections. The more the general public is interested and informed, the more people will contact the legislators. Volunteer. Troops on the ground for the campaign will be vital. If you have time on your hands waiting for the next call, you can do things.
Also noted, do your best not to make "film" sound as if the Hollywood elite intend to invade Arizona. Note that this is a jobs bill that benefits all the crew, talent, writers, producers and directors residing in Arizona. This bill is essential for investors considering sinking money into a production. And it is estimated the state will receive an 8% return. Try getting that from your Facebook stock.
True other states have tax incentives. But Arizona is closer to Hollywood than New Mexico (though they have built some kick ass sound stages). Legislators in Michigan have turned their back on the industry and Louisiana productions cannot get hurricane insurance.
Let's see... Arizona offers great exteriors with year round shooting and has a full stable of talent and crew.
We can do it this time... and we all benefit. Personally, I am working to get too independent features shot in Arizona. Without this tax initiative it's going to be more of a Sisyphean feat than it should be.
Stay tuned for more posts and please join in.
The AFMC will function as an information clearinghouse. Frequently visit http://www.azfilmandmedia.org for updates. TFO, IFASA and other groups will also distribute information. I'll make part of my mission posting on here and the AZ entertainment groups on Linked In.