An open letter to Montana senators & lawmakers ~
Greetings. I’m a Montanan. And I’m writing on behalf of an issue that affects every Montanan. Whether or not you think this directly affects you, it does. Please read below.
There is a gross misconception that incentives for filmmaking in Montana only benefits the owners of film production companies, and those in the film industry.
The FILM industry is a SUSTAINABLE, renewable resource for Montana.
The film industry impacts EVERY part of Montana’s economy – in fact, film has forever changed Montana’s economy.
In 1992, when Patrick Markey and his team brought “A River Runs Through It” to Montana, it forever changed the economy of Montana’s Tourism, with increased visits to the Parks, fishing rivers and more, as people came in droves to play and live. Every industry you can think of was impacted, from construction to coffee shops. In 1992, according to the Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, 6.5 million tourists visited Montana, bringing along revenues of $930 million dollars. By 1995, the number had risen to 7.7 million visitors who spent $1.2 billion dollars in Montana.
$90 MILLION IN 3 YEARS! And the economy has grown steadily since.
In 1995, when Far and Away shot in Billings, it brought $15 Million into the local economy. That money is spent at local coffee shops, mom and pop restaurants, hotels, retail stores, ranch owners, and more…. and continues to circulate for years after.
Having Montana exposed on the big screen brings awareness to our state, and has aided in attracting the boom of larger employers and tech companies who have chosen to re-locate here.
Since the passage of the Big Sky on the Big Screen Act in May of 2005, film production has left over $37 million dollars in Montana’s economy. Failure of HB120 would mean an immediate reduction of filming in Montana. The result of that will affect ALL MONTANANS. This is not just an incentive for “Hollywood types.” This will lead to an immediate loss of jobs for Montana’s film industry workers and graduates of the film programs from both Montana State University and the University of Montana. And that’s not it….
I personally know of at least three large projects that will move production to another state if this bill does not pass. Not only would this kill Montana’s film industry the potential is far more reaching… into your backyards.
There have been 129 productions certified under the Act. There have been 20 feature films, 38 national television ads, 11 nationally broadcast television programs, and 21 additional projects such as documentaries certified and filmed in Montana since passage. 70% of the companies that claimed the credit were Montana production companies which means a greater tax benefit to the state.
The money brought by film production is new money to the state’s economy. Without the film incentive, this money would be spent in other states or countries. If you consider the larger economic picture, including indirect and induced impacts created by this new money circulating in the economy, the total economic impact since the passage of the Act is $71 million dollars. Montana’s multiplier factor for new money turned over in the economy is very conservative at 1.53
The Big Sky on the Big Screen Act is sustainable and reasonable. This tax credit offers a 14% tax credit for hiring Montana labor and a 9% tax credit for Montana expenditures. There are over 40 states that offer tax credits to the film industry. Most of these states offer a higher percentage in tax credit than Montana does. Montana needs the Big Sky on the Big Screen act to have a chance against competing with states like New Mexico (25% credit) Washington (30% credit), Oregon (26% credit) , Utah (20% credit), and Michigan (42% credit).
Big Sky on the Big Screen Act certified productions account for $9 Million, of the direct economic impact of the film industry in Montana. Failure of HB 120 would be an immediate reduction equal to this amount of impact. The long term effect would be a gradual reduction of the whole of the production industry and the new dollars it brings to the economy as Montana’s crew and production infrastructure relocated or closed due to the reduction in production.
The economic value of a certified production is exponentially more than the economic value of non-certified productions.
In 2012 alone the 61 productions that shot in Montana spent $7.1 million. The four productions that claimed the credit were responsible for $3.2 million of that impact, and received only $163,000 in tax credits.
The tax credit was designed to attract larger budget projects such as feature films and national TV advertisements and TV programming. This production activity takes place statewide and brings economic development to all corners of the state. Television series like “Last American Cowboy” which filmed for 8 months in Stanford, Avon, and White Sulphur Springs and airs on Animal Planet would not have happened in Montana without this incentive. Major motion pictures like “My Sisters Keeper” which filmed in Glacier National Park and which utilized crew members from Kalispell would not have happened without this incentive.
Again – the FILM industry is a SUSTAINABLE, renewable resource for Montana. It’s not stripping from the earth, and detracting from the beauty we all love.
From tourism, to hotels, to restaurants, and mom & pop retail stores, the film industry exposes the world to the beauty of Montana and sparks people to come visit our beautiful state. And while the films are being produced here significant money is being spent here.
If not Montana, they will go to Canada, New Mexico, or Texas.
It’s up to you.
PLEASE PASS HB120.