On the heels of the Kansas City Film Development Program passing unanimously in City Council on Feb. 25, 2016, creating Kansas City’s first ever film incentive program, Missouri filmmakers and policymakers are working to pass a bill to reinstate the Missouri Film Tax Incentive program, which expired November 2013.
Crafted by the Missouri Motion Media Association (MOMMA) and presented in a hearing for Rep. Kathryn Swan (R-Cape Girardeau), bill HB 1645 in the Missouri House Economic Development and Attraction Committee would become effective August 28, 2016.
MOMMA board members Joni Tackette and Steph Scupham (who also serves as the Kansas City Film Commissioner) presented testimony in support of the bill to the committee. They also presented more than 25 letters of support from cities, industry organizations and companies around the state of Missouri. The efforts support a state incentive that will equip the Missouri Film Office to market to larger studio products and higher profile projects.
Tim Jacobsen, the executive director of Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau, also testified that without the tax-incentive program the Lake of the Ozarks is unable to effectively compete to land a production of the Netflix series Ozark, starring Jason Bateman.
Netflix has ordered 10 episodes of the series, which is set at the Lake of the Ozarks. A team scouted Lake of the Ozarks in February, but then moved production to Georgia, Vancouver and New York State, all of which offer incentive programs. Ozark isn’t scheduled to begin production until mid-to-late summer 2016, and no decision has been made yet as to where they will base the production.
According to MOMMA, the next step involves the bill being voted “do pass” out of this committee and getting referred to the House Select Committee of Commerce. MOMMA board members said they are only cautiously optimistic about the bill passing because last year a similar bill was voted out of this committee.
Meanwhile, the funds for the Kansas City Film Development program will become available beginning May 2016 and applications will be open on or around that date. Kansas City remains the only city in the United States with a film-production tax incentive within a state without such an incentive.
The Kansas City film incentive program will offer two tiers of rebate level—3.5% and 7%—based on meeting specific KC filming criteria. The total amount of tax savings will be limited to $75,000 per year, but there is no per-project cap, and the program has no “sunset” date.