A proposal for an incentives program designed to bring more film and television production to Kansas City has cleared a City Council committee. The committee voted unanimously to pass the measure on to a full City Council, which is expected to approve it on February 25th.
The incentive, which will take the form of a rebate based on actual verified spending, was proposed after concerns from professionals within the KC film industry that Kansas City is losing out on potential business. The details of the plan reportedly have been in the making for several months at the KC Film and Media Office of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Eligibility for the rebates will be based on qualifying parameters such as total budget, number of local hotel nights booked, percentage of shooting that is in Kansas City, number of local performers, and technicians and production personnel hired. Based on those factors, a production could earn rebates between 3.5 percent and 7 percent of the value of specific local production expenses.
Development chair Scott Taylor told the Finance Committee that Kansas City is losing talent and production contracts to cities that offer the incentives. A particularly frustrating case, he said was losing a movie set in Kansas City to Atlanta. The Good Lie features scenes in which Reese Witherspoon’s character helps resettle Sudanese refugees in Kansas City and Atlanta. However, scenes supposedly set in KC’s Country Club Plaza were actually filmed in Atlanta—which offered tax breaks.
Stephane Scupham, who became the KC Film Office’s Film Commissioner in October 2014, more than a decade after the KC Film Office (now part of the Visit KC tourism office) was last open for business, wants all Kansas City-area-based movies to be shot here.
Scupham believes the only thing keeping Hollywood producers away right now is the lack of incentives—something many cities and states outside of California already offer. “When there are tax incentives—when the landscape is level—then we can compete with other states. And then we might see some blockbuster movies made here—or maybe another Gone Girl.”
Although Gone Girl filmed for six weeks in rural Missouri—it was the last movie to benefit from the Missouri Film Incentive that expired in November 2013, Scupham said—The Good Lie, filmed in 2014, marked a particularly frustrating lost opportunity for KC. Based on a series of 60 Minutes segments (that were filmed in KC), The Good Lie features scenes in which Reese Witherspoon’s character helps resettle Sudanese refugees in KC and Atlanta. However, scenes supposedly set in KC’s Country Club Plaza were actually filmed in Atlanta—which offered tax breaks.