Gov. Bob McDonnell signed Virginia’s first tax credit incentives for film production this week, a milestone for economic development in a year where revenues are tight. But McDonnell cited the 14 to 1 return on investment that incentives like this generate as more than attractive.
McDonnell and Bolling both referred to the program as a “first step” to making film production a key component of the Virginia economy. To be sure, this is a measured first step. Credits won’t be available until 2011 and are capped in total at 2.5 million a year.
But with 41 other states offering similar packages, we’re at least competing for those dollars that film production brings to an economy.
I think the program could be improved. While big Hollywood productions grab the headlines, in truth those are “quick hit” projects that do spend a lot of money in a matter of days, and then leave.
Sustaining Virginia production companies who employ people week after week, pay taxes, and build film careers locally are in the long run a better target for nurturing. And with a cap of 2.5 million in total tax credits per year, how many blockbusters can we really expect.
I’d like a tiered system worked in that focuses more on Virginia film production companies and growing our own.
Tim Reid, founder of New Millennium Studios in Virginia and better known as Venus Fly Trap on WKRP in Cincinnati, seemed to appreciate the point of my question when I asked about nurturing Virginia filmmakers.
I think there is much more to be gained in growing a Virginia film industry than attracting flybys from California.
Still, we’re in the game now, and that’s more than we’ve ever been before.
And to all my film/arts/acting friends, Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine never did so much as say hello to you. Republican Bob McDonnell gave your industry the tax incentives that Marky Mark and Timmy! never could.