Kentucky's emerging film industry considers a future without tax - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky's emerging film industry considers a future without tax credits

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It may be a wrap for Kentucky's emerging film industry 

With debate raging in Frankfort over whether it's a blockbuster or bust, Gov. Matt Bevin says the funds taxpayers spend on a state tax credit for filmmakers shooting their movies in Kentucky just don't make sense.

But Stargazer Films' Charles Allen disagrees.  He thinks a good film, "changes your perspectives. It's thought provoking," And he says there's a phenomenal group of local talent. 

Bevin says there's no funding to support the film industry in Kentucky. His new budget cut the film tax credit program that reimbursed production companies at least 30 percent of their costs. The hope was to lure in more movie, television and documentary projects. 

Since the tax credit was implemented, Kentuckians have spotted stars like Nick Cage, Selma Blair and George Lopez around town. And that has allowed Los Angeles-based Stargazer Films to lease space at Mellwood Art Center for a studio. 

"We have a new production starting in February, and the plan was to have eight to 10 this year and 15 to 20 next year," said Allen.  

But that work is now in limbo. 

"It comes down to economics," Allen said. "We're a small indie company, and the tax credits make it viable for us to be here." He said, "Our primary producer was from Louisville,  and he wanted to be here. But the tax incentive makes all the difference." 
 
Critics say Kentucky's film tax credit program grew too quickly. One report says the state paid out more than $50 million last year alone with little tracking for a return on the investment which equals how many jobs it created. 

With a pension crisis looming, the Bevin is saying "lights out."  

"Is there any comparison at all as to where our state should have its priorities? I think not. But again our legislatures will decide because it's their job to do so." 
 
The budget battle makes for the ultimate cliffhanger with hundreds of jobs from camera operators to costume designers in the balance. 

Allen said it's about having a vision.  

"I would encourage Kentucky leadership to look at our neighbors to the south in Georgia and see how successful it's been with the tax credits. There's no reason we can't do the same."

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