Two major motion pictures were shot in Missouri over the last year; the Oscar nominated movie “Up in the Air” in St. Louis, and “Winter’s Bone” in the Ozarks. But state cuts could send future cash cows to different pastures
The state’s tax credit review commission has recommended the Film Tax Credit be eliminated. Lorah Steiner, the President of the Missouri Motion Media Association, says that could pull the rug out from under what was a potential growth industry in the state. She says the producers of the major movies filmed here are interested in coming back.
“They said, ‘This is a great state for films. It’s cost effective; the people are wonderful the crew is wonderful. We want to come here and film again.’ It’s like, ‘Please invite us, but please also have a tax incentive, have a production credit,’” Steiner said.
Last year all the available funds in that credit were used up after those two major movies filmed here.  Steiner says shortly after that, word spread about Missouri as a filming spot and a $90 million project considered coming here.
“But they had to say no, because we didn’t have any production credit. That would have been, let’s say, a $4.5 million investment for a $90 million return,” Steiner said. “Film makers love Missouri because of its varied topography. You can make it look like L.A. you can make it look like New York or you can go to the Ozarks like ‘Winter’s Bone,’ and have that topography. But we can’t compete with what we have. It’s simply not possible.”
The tax credit commission’s recommendations aren’t final; it’ll be up to state legislators to make those decisions.
“One of the arguments against the tax credits is that films are not full-time jobs. One of our members who owns a grip truck in St. Louis said, ‘Well that’s interesting because I’ve been working ‘part time’ for 30 years.’ Film makers and people who work in this industry go from project to project,” Steiner said.
She hopes legislators put some serious thought into the tax credit.
“I don’t want to sound condescending at all, but I don’t think we get it yet; the impact this is going to have on our lives and the jobs it creates,” Steiner said. “It gives us stable production whether it’s big films or whether it’s commercials. To keep that talent here, our best talent in new media is leaving the state or they’re going outside of the state to work.”

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]