Monday, March 29, 2010

Let incentives take state film industry to maturity

- Editorial submission by Lance Hool, CEO Santa Fe Studios and Hal Katersky, chairman and CEO of Albuquerque Studios.

The near-term success of our film industry in New Mexico depends on film incentives; in the long term it will depend on developing the local infrastructure, talent and crews.

We are on a solid ground, but we must keep growing. New Mexico is the most desired place to make movies, outside of Hollywood and New York. The crew base is growing and infrastructure is being established, but there is still a long road ahead. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, only 2 percent of the films shot in North America in 2009 were shot in New Mexico. We need to grow that number.

We've seen the growth of the film industries in Australia and Canada, and the demise of the Mexican and South African film industries. Each of these industries was launched with the help of incentives from governments.

The Australian and Canadian film industries are both thriving. They began to flourish in the 1970s with the help of tax incentives. Today they have reached a mature stage, and their indigenous industries are self-sustaining. This is proven by the fact that, although their currencies have surged against the U.S. dollar, both industries continue to thrive. Films can now be produced with 100 percent local talent. If Hollywood wants an Australian- or Canadian-made film, they need not import Hollywood crews and talent. Each of these two industries has excellent local talent and crews to, not only shoot the movie, but handle all post-production as well.

The South African film industry grew quickly with favorable tax incentives in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the South African government pulled the incentives too early and abruptly. Unlike Canada and Australia, the industry had not matured. There was no infrastructure, and the industry literally evaporated. The country is grappling with how to grow back their industry and has enlisted the help of New Mexicans, among others, to emulate our successful program of incentives.

To read the full article, click here!