By Juliana Lukasik
The Oregonian’s recent article on Oregon’s tax incentives for the television and film industries was missing key points from those communities and warrants a response.
I own and operate a successful film studio here in Portland and I’m neither rich nor wealthy. But I do benefit from the tax incentives that Jody Wiser of Tax Fairness Oregon and Chuck Sheketoff of the Oregon Center for Public Policy are claiming to be wasteful. My company has clients that come from other states specifically to utilize our talent and our crews and to benefit from the incentive program currently in place here in Oregon.
But there’s another chapter to the story. With out-of-state companies coming here, we’re flooding our market with more money. We’re able to employ valuable local production crews and industry professionals who would otherwise be living on unemployment or other state-funded benefits in order to survive. We use hotels, restaurants and local businesses that provide production equipment, supplies and expendables.
Specifically, Wiser made the comment that, “As far as subsidies go, it’s one of the most ridiculous ones any state would have.” She’s entitled to her opinion, but more than 40 other states have implemented film incentive programs that relate to taxes at the state level. And while there will always be critics, that doesn’t negate the fact that the tax incentives help support a state’s own film workers and businesses.
On another note, what’s the problem with non-industry professionals purchasing the film credits? With all due respect, people who work in the film community do not have large amounts of expendable income to purchase these credits. When people who do have the financial resources want to help to get films made, they keep people working and thriving.
And the critics who argue that the film industry produces no infrastructure are off base. The film industry does not operate within an infrastructure. It never has. People go where they can fit everything they need for production into their budget. That may not be solely in Oregon. That may be in Oregon, Colorado and Texas, for example. That’s specifically why we employ location scouts, to find the best environments for the production. A state with incentives keeps those production companies coming back here. Having a set infrastructure in one place goes against the process of how film is actually made.
The study done to show who is benefiting from these incentives, which are open to the public for purchase, could be considered a waste of time and resources. If we took our time and energy to research the positive impact that these incentives and credits create within our blooming film community, the critics might appreciate the continued support for our local grips, our local makeup artists, or our local visual editors who before the tax credits were struggling financially for years, unable to find steady work.Juliana Lukasik is principal and director of @Large Films Inc. in Northeast Portland.