The Oregonian – Film-Making Incentive Fund

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Oregonian, The (Portland, OR) – Tuesday, August 12, 2003


If you handed someone $1 and they gave you back $2.65, would it seem like a good investment?

It does to me, but you be the judge. Here is some background.

Last summer, Oregon gave Hollywood $100,000 to film the movie “The Dust Factory” in our state. In all, “The Dust Factory” poured almost $2 million into Oregonian pockets as wages for 187 Oregonians hired for the film and to pay for hotel rooms, hire limousines and eat in restaurants. About $265,000 of that money went to the state, counties and cities for taxes, permits and fees. That’s about 13 percent.

Every dollar that Hollywood spends in Oregon has a multiplier effect. The multiplier effect comes into play every time limo drivers have to buy gas or locally hired actors buy groceries. In fact, the economic impact of each Hollywood dollar is equal to $1.76, according to a study by ECONorthwest. In 2001, Hollywood spent $28 million in Oregon, but the economic impact was $44 million.

Right now, legislators are thinking about setting up a permanent rebate program like the one that encouraged “The Dust Factory” to film in Oregon.

The program would give out-of-state movie companies that film here a rebate of 10 percent of any money they actually spend in Oregon up to $250,000 per film.

There’s a lot of potential for Oregon. In all, Hollywood spends $10 billion a year to shoot on location. In British Columbia, incentives have increased the spending by out-of-province film companies from $176 million in 1991 to $1.1 billion in 2001. A lot of those film companies fly over Oregon to get to Vancouver; they could be coming to Oregon instead.

Oregon has a lot going for it in Hollywood’s eyes. We’re just a short jet-hop from Los Angeles. We can supply settings from urban to rural, mountainous to marine.

And we have a strong local film and video community that supplies those out-of-state film companies with skilled workers. Oregon’s film and video industry supports 2,830 full-time jobs earning an average of $37,200 a year. These are highly skilled, highly paid Oregon workers.

But Hollywood is a business, and business looks at the bottom line. With more than 30 states offering incentives of up to 25 percent for out-of-state filming, those states that don’t offer incentives quickly fall to the bottom of the pile.

So, where do we get the money for incentives? By offering Oregonians — if they choose — the chance to make donations to the Oregon Production Investment Fund. Any money they donate would be a tax credit to them. (So if someone donated $100, they would pay $100 less in taxes). The donations would be used for rebates.

No industry is perfect, but — like tourism — having outside companies film in Oregon comes close. It’s environmentally friendly. Pays taxes, but uses few government services. And provides good-paying jobs for local workers.

The Oregon Senate has passed legislation to set up the Oregon Production Incentive Fund. It is under consideration in the House. Everyone seems to think it’s a good idea. But with the focus on pressing matters of the state budget, I am concerned that this good idea may be allowed to slip between our fingers.

The time to act is now, before Hollywood’s bonds with Canada and other states become too strong to overcome. In my opinion, this investment in Oregon’s economy is a practical way to boost our economy, keep good-paying jobs in Oregon and painlessly raise money for the state. The facts speak for themselves.

Juliana Lukasik of Portland is owner of @Large Films Inc. and president of the Oregon Media Production Association, a professional organization serving 300 film, video and media professionals in the state.

Page: B09
Record Number: 0308100012

Copyright (c) 2003 Oregonian Publishing Co.
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