As I imagine all my fellow filmmakers would agree; making something like a TV pilot or feature film is difficult. There is an incredible amount of detailed work that goes into a producing something, especially a feature, and any help that we can find along the way is integral to a successful outcome. The importance of an active and helpful film commission, one that makes permitting, finding locations, crew and all other types of local vendors needed in a production easy, is monumental towards making the pre-production process a breeze and lessening potential stress and chaos during production. And when tax incentives or rebates become apart of the picture, indie filmmakers rejoice even more, because the difference a 25% reimbursement on local production expenditures, like currently passed in Minnesota, or the potential additional rebate from a city like Duluth on local production expenses are gigantic signals to filmmakers at all levels of their career that you are serious about bringing production to your region. When working with an average independent film budget of around $750,000 (or in most of our cases, a lot less), large rebates and incentives what Minnesota is trying to put together go along way toward being able to provide a better cast, a more well equipped crew and a post-production budget that isn’t hampered by whatever is ‘leftover’ from a thinly stretched production budget.
As the head of a creative agency that is trying to grow and connect the arts community in San Diego, I only wish we had more voices like Philip fighting for incentives and rebates like these in our town. The local government has been incredibly slow to act since the Film Commissions dissolution in 2013. And while California does offer a similar rebate on in-state expenditures like Minnesota does, independent filmmakers like myself are fighting major studios for those state-wide rebates. Even though recently San Diego’s Mayor Faulconer claimed the city was in the middle of a ‘film renaissance’, my one week in Duluth made me feel like the entire state of Minnesota would be much more helpful and ready to assist me in producing my first feature than almost any of the connections I have made in San Diego since my time as a professional the last 6+ years. And that is largely because I do not have any head of the San Diego Film Commission to go meet with. Or email. Or communicate with. There’s a few different loosely associated private organizations in town that try to be the de-facto film commission, but nothing exists that I feel that can truly help me produce a feature with the type of budget and quality I’m aiming for.