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AZ Big Media The future of Arizona’s film industry

There will be lots of lights, cameras and action for Arizona in the near future.

While California has been home to the film industry for many years, a new stimulus is in the works to try to attract more businesses and allow more film companies to produce here easily.

“The legislature was finally able to come together and recognize that Arizona is a wonderful state to film in and that it was an industry that Arizona should court,” said Chris LaMont, clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s Sidney Poitier New American Film School. “It’s a very exciting time for the industry because this industry has been trying to get film funding back on the books since 2010.”

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) has worked closely with the new Movie Incentive Act passed by the Legislature.


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“The law requires ACA to implement and oversee this program,” said Patrick Ptak, ACA’s senior vice president of executive initiatives. “Because this is a new program, we have to go through the process of setting rules and building the program from the ground up.”

Arizona isn’t the only state where the film industry is expanding. New Mexico has made significant strides in its film industry. Earlier this year, Netflix continued its expansion with Albuquerque Studios and has invested over $1 billion to date.

“New Mexico is king and Louisiana and Georgia have some great incentives too. One of the things Arizona has to do is actually film in Arizona-based studios to qualify for a tax credit,” LaMont said. “This incentive for Arizona will help spur infrastructure builds by buying these independent companies that build soundstages that will help compete with New Mexico.”

The new film incentive will have a massive impact on the economy and the general incentive for people to bring their projects to Arizona. The incentive is a tiered system based on how much money a filmmaker spends in the state and how much they will make from the production. These tax credits could boast of the state’s reputation film industry.

“When nobody had tax credits, we were the third largest tourist destination in the country. At one point it was Los Angeles, New York and Tucson. That was slowly being eroded by other people in the industry and other states offering tax credits,” said Matthew Earl Jones, director of ACA’s film and digital media program. “We got out of the market and we were gone for six years. Neighboring states took advantage of the fact that we weren’t a player, but I think you see now that we’ve had a remarkable response since then.”

While this incentive creates many opportunities for the state, it also opens many doors for directors and producers in terms of location.

“We have the most diverse topography in the country. You can have snow and come down in Flagstaff in the winter and it’s like spring here in Scottsdale. We also made an agreement with the Navajo Nation, so for the first time in Arizona’s history, we really made a collaborative effort to really help them advance their land,” Jones said. “We also struck a deal with the state of Sonora, Mexico, in 2019. In addition to importing jobs, where for the first time in Arizona history we are asking you to bring your project out of California, we have the opportunity to export our expertise to Northern Mexico.”

Arizona has the resources and capability to accommodate larger production agencies. With this newfound ability, there are also many opportunities for economic growth.

“It’s not about the States. It’s about the people, the equipment and the infrastructure here and about new business opportunities. If you’re talking about New Mexico, that’s a great example, right? In 2021, $624 million was spent on production in New Mexico,” LaMont said. “So Arizona can get to that point? Gosh, wouldn’t that be great? But we are catching up and this is the first step in bringing Hollywood feature films and TV shows here.”

There is still work to be done for the future of film in Arizona. From the job creation to the money spent on production, Arizona as a whole will benefit from this venture.

“As someone who’s a film commissioner and has been a producer and grew up in an industrial family, I want to say that I think that’s a great thing. I mean, there’s an incredible economic impact,” Jones said. . “Not only is film, I think, good for the state as a whole, but in some of our more rural areas we have some of the most beautiful places and in our tribal communities, I think we can make a huge contribution to the economy in those areas because we’re one of the key resources and industries flowing into the rural environment.”

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