In 2007, the Legislature created the Film, Television, and Video Project Promotion program to encourage the production of films in Iowa.  Since that time, 13 film projects have been shot in Iowa.  The Iowa House approved Senate File 480 on Wednesday to lure larger films to Iowa and make us more competitive with neighboring states.  Click here for a summary of the bill.

According to today’s Des Moines Register, the efforts may be paying off:

Tax breaks help lure California film group


A movie company from California is considering a move to Des Moines’ Southridge Mall based upon action lawmakers took Wednesday that increases tax breaks for the film industry.

The company plan would involve a production and marketing budget of as much as $300 million, creating as many as 10 family-oriented movies in five years and hiring hundreds of staff members and actors.

Lawmakers who approved the measure say more studios are also eyeing Iowa, including one that’s considering moving into a building left vacant after Maytag closed in Newton.

“It does create a lot of local economic development, and it can be a community as small as a little river town along the Mississippi,” said Rep. Roger Thomas, D-Elkader and chairman of the House Economic Growth Committee.

The team that’s focusing on Des Moines is Gigapix Studios and Konwiser Brothers, companies involved in making such movies as “Miss Evers’ Boys” and “Shanghai Kiss.” The team would set up an Iowa-based company that would produce five to 10 movies in the family-film genre within the next five years.

The first movie, which could start production as early as June, would be “Blackbeard,” a kids’ movie about two brothers in Iowa who through magic realism uncover a mystical pirate and bring him to the contemporary world.

Each movie would have a budget of between $8 million and $10 million, with roughly $20 million for marketing.

“We believe Iowa, for us creatively, is a perfect fit,” said Kip Konwiser, head of production for Gigapix Studios. “Iowa, for us businesswise, is also a perfect fit.”

Iowa created the film and television promotion program in 2007. The state also began a tax credit program to provide incentives to movie efforts. Since then, the credits have helped attract 13 projects valued at about $31 million, according to the Iowa Film Office.

Legislative actions taken Wednesday remove some exclusions in the current tax credit program so that tax breaks can apply to more movie employees, including the salaries of producers, cast members and directors.

The bill, Senate File 480, also extends the time it takes for film project vendors to fully benefit from the tax breaks. Because of that, the state will see a net revenue increase of $810,000 in the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2010, according to the Legislative Services Agency.

The bill passed the Senate on Tuesday. The House passed the bill in a 96-1 vote Wednesday.

Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, cast the lone “no” vote. He said he’s concerned that state tax breaks are getting out of hand.

The bill now heads to the governor for his signature.