Newspaper Columnist Objects To Tax Credits for Serial Killer Film
Dermot Cole has been skeptical about the film incentive program in general.
The author of the state law creating the film tax incentive program is defending the decision to grant a state subsidy to a major motion picture about Alaska's most notorious serial killer.
The preliminary approval from the Department of Commerce drew fire today from Fairbanks News-Miner columnist Dermot Cole.
Cole has been skeptical about the film incentive program in general.
But he says state participation in a story about a man who murdered at least 17 women is going too far.
The story of the so-called butcher baker, Robert Hansen, has been the subject of books.
And on October 10, production is slated to begin in Anchorage on the film version.
But today Cole called on the Parnell administration to reject the producers' application for tax credits under the film incentive program.
"The state law does clearly seem to give the Alaska Film Office the ability to exercise judgment in what is subsidized. And so i'm just saying if that judgment is given to state officials, maybe they ought to exercise it in this case. I don't see how this in the best interests of Alaska to highlight this particular character."
State Senator Johnny Ellis, who wrote the law creating the film incentive program, says he met with the director and producers and was pleased with the tone they want to take.
"The emphasis is not on the gory aspects of the tragic story of Robert Hansen. But the emphasis is on the victims -- the untold story of the victims. And so this film, this major production with Nicolas cage and john Cusack, will be filmed. It will be filmed in Alaska or British Columbia or Romania."
Noted Wanetta Ayers, economic development director at the Alaska Department of Commerce: “One of the objectives in creating the incentive program to begin with was to bring Alaska-specific to be filmed here in Alaska, and this of course is a script that is specific to Alaska."
And Cole's concern is not just with the Hansen film. He also has broader worries -- about the film tax incentive program, in general.
Cole says that while the production of “Everybody Loves Whales” injected millions into the Southcentral economy last year, he's not sure it's worth it because the state is keeping tax credit information confidential.
"It's one thing to look at the Alaska economic impact in terms of how money it generates. But the calculation is incomplete unless you also look at how much it costs."
Ellis countered: "The State of Alaska does not reveal -- just like most states do not reveal -- proprietary business information to businesses' competitors. That makes you a business-unfriendly environment in your state."
Ellis is seeking to extend the film incentive program for another 10 years.\
He says concerns such as Cole's will be taken into consideration.
But for now, it looks like the show will go on.
Cole also noted the law bars subsidizing films with sexually explicit content.
Hansen raped even more women than he killed.
But Ellis says that prohibition was intended to apply only to actual pornography.
And Ayers says that's the way it's being interpreted.