Film Incentive Program Extension Leaves Industry Uncertain
The Alaska Film Incentive Program Extension is scheduled to expire in two years, and an effort to extend the program has been tabled until next legislative session.
The tax incentive program that helped bring the major motion picture "Everybody Loves Whales" is nearing its end, leaving the Alaskan film industry with uncertainty about the future.
The Alaska Film Incentive Program was passed back in 2008 to lure production companies to film in Alaska; it was a five-year $100 million experiment, now in its third year.
" I’ve been able to work on actual Hollywood movies that are starting to film up here, an opportunity I wouldn’t have without the film incentive bill," said SprocketHeads cinematographer Steve Rychetnik.
So far dozens of production companies have taken advantage of the program including the "Whales" movie, which employed over a thousand Alaskans. The incentive program is scheduled to expire in 2013, and legislators are working to extend the program before it’s too late.
"We wanted to get started now because we didn’t want to run up against the deadline and have productions that were thinking about coming to Alaska, but then having that uncertainty," said Wanetta Ayers, Director with the Department of Commerce.
Legislators are working to extend the program for the next decade with $200 million; the bill passed in the Senate, but was tabled by the House until next legislative session.
"It was a disappointment that it didn't pass this year, but it wasn't a surprise because it's major legislation and it has a good chance for next year," said Sen. Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage.
Even with two years left in the program, film industry officials say there are a lot of projects in the works, and over $80 million left for production companies to take advantage of.
"We have a number of productions that are already pre-qualified, and we have a number of productions that are beginning some of their initial exploration work," Ayers said.
A growing film industry that is now left up to lawmakers to decide whether to move forward.