Returning Arizona to its glory on the big screen? The Prescott Film Festival discusses the implications of the new AZ tax credit

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Even as it celebrates the films’ storied past and the best of its current offerings, the Prescott Film Festival is keeping tabs on the future of cinema – including a new tax incentive in Arizona that could jump-start film production nearly at home. Learn more about a possible legislative game changer at:We have a movie tax credit (what does that mean?)a panel discussion on Wednesday, September 28 at 2:30 p.m. at the Prescott Film Festival, YC’s Prescott campus.

“It happens, it’s real.” Filmmaker Greg Paul spoke about Arizona’s film program, passed by state lawmakers in July. Paul, an actor, director and resource liaison for the Arizona Film Office, will lead the PFF forum. “Legislators have agreed on the principle of the tax credit. It is based on state initiatives in places like Massachusetts and Georgia. There is still work to be done – adapting the program to Arizona, preparing the film office – but it will be law from January 2023.”

The Arizona Motion Picture Program is a tiered incentive program, providing a 15% tax credit to eligible filmmakers who spend $10 million shooting movies or TV shows in Arizona. Filmmakers who spend between $10 million and $35 million in the state will receive a 17.5% tax credit, and those who spend more than $35 million will receive a 20% tax credit. The state will also offer a 2.5% tax reduction on labor costs to production companies that hire Arizona workers. Paul says that with proper implementation and promotion, the program can open Arizona up to a major influx of Hollywood money.

“We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars,” he explained. Other western states, such as Wyoming (Yellowstone) and New Mexico (breaking Bad, You better call Saul), have used similar incentives to attract production companies to their states and enrich their economies. “Arizona has had a great cinematic history – with the Grand Canyon and all its natural wonders – but it has fallen out of favor with politicians.” Although Arizona maintains a determined roster of smaller independent filmmakers, major studio production deals dwindled after the State Film Office fell victim to recession-era budget cuts in 2010. arizona is an opportunity for the state to regain momentum. “Prescott is a good place for that. It’s economical, it’s central to the state, providing access to places like Flagstaff and Sedona. We need to start developing the infrastructure, like studios and offices, that make it more accessible. »

Arizona’s film history goes back almost as far as the industry itself. Since Monument Valley defined John Ford’s classic in 1939 Diligence, Arizona canyons, red rocks and vistas have surrounded many westerns; from Tex Ritter – who “crossed the Rio Grande” at Watson Lake – to Glenn Ford to John Wayne. The state’s latter-day resume includes everything from kitschy horror films (Tarantula and Night of Lepus) to cinematic time capsules like Planet of the Apes, Billy Jack, Thelma and Louise Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Jerry McGuire. The tax credit may signal a new area, where Arizona legislatures, local communities and artists are working together to revisit Arizona’s cinematic heyday.

“We have a lot of good organizations, like the Arizona Film Commission and the Arizona Commerce Authority, working behind the scenes on this,” Paul said. “We have a lot of talented filmmakers and producers in the state. I feel positive about it. It is a step in the right direction. »

Greg Paul’s discussion, “We have a movie tax credit (what does that mean?)will take place on Wednesday, September 28 at 2:30 p.m. in Building 3, Room 119 of Yavapai College’s Prescott Campus. The talk is part of the Prescott Film Festival and admission is free. Other PFF events, such as film screenings, are paid events that can be purchased separately or as part of a festival package. For more information, please visit the Prescott Film Festival website, www.prescottfilmfestival.com, call the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center box office at (928) 776.2000, or visit us online at: www.ycpac.com .

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