INDIANAPOLIS — Soon you may see a few Hollywood actors on the streets of Indy. After years of political battles, filmmakers in Indiana will finally have access to tax credits.
“We have said for a long time, without this legislation, we would not be able to advance the film industry in Indiana,” said John Armstrong with Pigasus Pictures in Bloomington.
The passing of Senate Bill 361 will put the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) in charge of handing out these tax incentives. The idea is to give production companies a financial break if they hire Hoosiers.
“For young people who grew up in Indiana like me, you have to seek your fortunes elsewhere,” said Armstrong.
“If this didn’t work for states, there wouldn’t be this many states bringing these programs in,” added Angelo Pizzo, the screenwriter for iconic Indiana movies Rudy and Hoosiers, “Georgia for example, it’s a multi-billion dollar business for them. We would not have shot Hoosiers or Rudy in Indiana under the existing conditions. We would be asking the financier to give .30 on every dollar away because the surrounding states [with 30% tax incentives] have a lot of the same topography and look that Indiana does.”
A few of the state’s major universities have film degrees, but most of the students leave the state to find work. In years past, the nuances of the tax credits caused a hold up at the statehouse.
“If we put this bill on the floor, everyone has their opinion, and would want to put their pet project or pet idea into it,” explained Pizzo talking about prior bills that reached the statehouse floor.
Pizzo credits State Representative Bob Morris, and lobbyist Tony Samuel, for spearheading the latest effort to run the program through the IEDC. He called Representative Morris “The MVP” that they didn’t have in years past. The IEDC is still working out the fine details of how the tax incentives will work.
The law will go into effect on July 1, but Pizzo expects filmmakers to line up to submit applications this week.
“I know from a scouting perspective, and how the movie industry works, they will be scouting aggressively,” said Representative Morris, “You can shoot film from all over the world essentially in Indiana as far as the geographic makeup.”
Representative Morris believes Indiana could begin to turn abandoned buildings into production studios. Armstrong agrees with him.
“The statistic that I have heard is there is currently ten times more production space needed on the globe to meet the backlog at Netflix. They are looking for any open space that can be retrofitted to be a studio,” explained Armstrong, “With the move to online retail, there are certainly spaces all over Indiana the can be retrofitted.”
Armstrong’s Pigasus Pictures premiers their newest movie, So Cold The River, on March 26. The film was shot at the West Baden Hotel in French Lick, and is an adaptation of a novel written by Michael Koryta.
“[The bill] is going to help us finance our projects hopefully in a more efficient way,” says Armstrong.
Pizzo is set to film an upcoming movie in Kentucky on an $8 million budget.
“I would have shot that film in Indiana if they had the tax credit,” added Pizzo, “When I shoot this movie in Kentucky this summer, we will have 90% plus of the hires be in state.”