Barbour signs bill for movie incentives

Published 6:19 pm Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Legislation to create new incentives to attract filmmakers and television productions to Mississippi has been signed by the governor.

The bill, which took effect with Gov. Haley Barbour’s signature on May 9, would provide a 20 percent rebate on a production’s local spending in Mississippi.

Since 2004, there has been a sales tax exemption of 7 percent on most production items and a sales tax exemption of 5 percent on most production equipment.

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“The film industry is important to Mississippi, as it is an industry in constant growth,” Barbour said Tuesday in a statement.

The bill also creates a 25 percent rebate on the salaries of Mississippi residents and a 20 percent rebate on the salary of nonresident cast and crew. The rebate would apply to the first $1 million of any individual salary.

There is a $20,000 minimum on spending, an $8 million per project cap and a $20 million annual cap. The rebate is issued within 45 days of completion of production in Mississippi, according to Gray Swoope, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority.

The rebate program applies to feature, television, documentary and commercial productions.

Alaska, Michigan and New York have boosted incentives this year. The Alabama Legislature is considering tax breaks for the movie industry. Louisiana has had a tax credit program for several years to encourage investments in the entertainment industry. Tennessee offers rebates and sales-tax breaks to filmmakers based on a percentage of their in-state spending.

Swoope said Mississippi is building work force training programs at both the private and community college levels and enhancing the long-standing film program at the University of Southern Mississippi with a new campus on the Gulf Coast.

He said there are sound stage and support service development in the works in several areas of the state.

In 2006, the state broke ground on the Mississippi Film Centre, designed to boost the number of skilled film crew members in the state and encourage more movies to shoot here.

The facility was located on 25 acres in Canton, where the movies “My Dog Skip” and “A Time To Kill” were filmed.

Mississippi also has been the location for some other films such as “‘The Insider,” “The Chamber” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

On The Net:

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