Guest Editorial: Stuck On A Still – The Lack Of Incentives Keeps The Film Industry Out Of AZ

By: Robert Rich

On October 8, 2018, Governor Susana Martinez & Mayor Tim Keller announced that Netflix has chosen Albuquerque, New Mexico to be the home of its first production studio complex. The deal is projected to bring in $1 billion dollars of revenue, and 1,000 production jobs, per year to New Mexico. While this is a huge step forward for filmmakers outside of the Los Angeles & New York area, this deal has left Arizona in the dust. The Grand Canyon State would logistically make more sense for major studio conglomerates. The diverse Arizona landscape (and close proximity to Los Angeles) would theoretically be far more alluring grounds for any major production company. Cecil DeMille & his production crew originally wanted to place Hollywood in Flagstaff (if it wasn’t for the cold weather) in the 1900’s. However, the state continuously loses work to states like New Mexico & Maryland due to tax incentives. New Mexico offers a 25% refundable tax credit, with a $50 million-dollar cap, for projects related to feature films, television, animation, commercials etc. Arizona’s tax incentive program expired in 2010 and has pushed away any serious work from the state. Any subsequent bills to restore it have been shot down.

“We’re asking the state to level the playing field, give the industry a chance to regain something that’s been around for 99 years here.”, Michael Kucharo, the former president of the Arizona Film & Media Coalition said

This decision has had Arizona lose a projected $250 million dollars per year. However, the Arizona Film & Media Coalition has been more active than ever after this announcement. The organization has been running social media campaigns (under #GoFilmAz) to bring back production work to the Valley. You can support the AZ Film & Media Coalition by donating to their GoFundMe campaign (https://www.gofundme.com/future-of-film-in-arizona-campaign), or by registering to their active supporter database at http://azfilmandmedia.org/ to stay up to date for when legislation involving the Arizona Film Industry arises.