Thursday, October 8, 2009

Panelists Warn Against Cutting Film Incentives

From the Santa Fe New Mexican

Oct. 7--If New Mexico did away with or substantially reduced its tax incentive program for movies, productions in the state would dry up, according to a veteran production executive speaking Tuesday.

"In 18 to 24 months, you would feel it," said John Hadity -- president and CEO of a self-named company that specializes in production finance and risk management for film and television. He spoke at a panel discussion at a conference for Western state legislators.

Hadity was asked the question by Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, a supporter of the film incentives. Egolf asked Hadity whether he'd send productions to this state if there were no incentives. "No," he said. "Finances drive decision making." Earlier he said that people who make decisions on where to shoot films don't even consider states that don't offer incentives. Only seven states do not offer incentives for film productions.

"If you don't have an incentives program, you're dead," Hadity said.

But because of the ever-increasing state revenue crisis, there might be a move in the Legislature to reduce or eliminate those incentives to help balance the budget.

Gov. Bill Richardson, a champion of the film program, has said while some tax incentives for other industries should be looked at, the movie incentives should be kept in place. But skeptics have questioned whether the benefits of the program, the cost of which could reach about $80 million this year.

The panel discussion was part of the program at the Council of State Governments-West annual meeting, taking place in Santa Fe this week.

Another panelist, Ned Richtor, president of a Massachusetts company that has studied economic development program, noted there is a "pushback" against film programs in several states. "This is a business deal you're bankrolling with taxpayer dollars," he said. "Competition is fierce because so many states (have programs) and accounting is murky."

Another panelist, Eric Witt, who has served as Richardson's liaison with the film industry, was asked how other businesses in the state feel about the film program.

To see the full article, click here.