Virginia makes tax credits available to Hollywood

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Bob McDonnell is hoping to bring a slice of Hollywood to Virginia.

Today the governor signed into law new tax credits that aim to make it easier for filmmakers to make their movies right here.

Actor and filmmaker Tim Reid was excited. And no member of this friendly crowd inside Saint John's Church could blame him, after hearing what Governor Bob McDonnell had to say.

"The final straw was during the campaign, when I found out that Secretariat, a movie about a Virginia horse, with a Virginia trainer was filmed in Kentucky and Louisiana. That's just flat wrong, Tim, don't you think? We decided we were gonna do something about it," McDonnell said.

The governor signed two bills that, in theory, would make movies made in Virginia more profitable. Tax credits of up to $2.5-million now will be available to studios that meet certain criteria. Other monies are also being made available to fund certain projects.

"It's gonna really, really help the resident community, the crew, the people who work of them, set design, construction you name it," said Mark Remes, president of the Virginia Production Alliance.

The VPA began working for the credits almost ten years ago, arguing that the impact of the credits also goes beyond the film industry.

"Our industry had been able to prove that it had a fast way, in order to be able to bring jobs here, and not  have to spend a lot of money, but bring the jobs here and thus the revenue that comes with it," said Terry Stroud, chairman of the VPA.

However, the credits haven't worked everywhere. In Iowa, two officials were fired in September following reports of a tax credit "fiasco". And the next day, the L.A. Times wrote that the incentives were losing glamour in cash-strapped states. But supporters argue Virginia is different, and big things are expected of the new law here.

"To advocate to New York, Los Angeles, and other places that they ought to be spending their money here in Virginia to produce films," McDonnell said.

There is a lot of money at stake. According to figures released by the governor's office, the film industry generated $378 million for Virginia back in 2008. Left unclear is the number of studios that are considering Virginia now that the credits have been signed into law.

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