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Colorado's Film Incentive Program In Jeopardy

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Next year’s spending plan cleared the Senate this week with $1.3 million allocated for the Colorado Office of Film Television & Media. That’s not even half what the department received last year.

The funding is used for an incentive program to entice movie and television productions to film in the state.

"Effectively it would mean we were out of business."

Colorado Film Commissioner Donald Zuckerman says all of this year’s money is wrapped up in projects and productions are waiting for next fiscal year’s funding.

But Zuckerman says $1.3 million won’t even put a dent in the incentives needed to keep these productions interested in Colorado.

“Hallmark wants to do a six part TV series here. But they will not come unless we have incentive money. If we cannot help them they will probably go to Vancouver, but they want to come here. We need more money than that for the Hallmark series alone,” Zuckerman said.

This year,Colorado signed on three feature films thanks to theincentive program featuring a 20 percent cash rebate and loan guarantee program for up to 20 percent of the productions cost. Zuckerman says only $1.3 million for incentives would put an end to program that’s finally building momentum.

“Effectively it would mean we were out of business,” Zuckerman said.

Credit eliduke / Flickr Commons
Flickr Commons
Film screening at Red Rocks Amphitheater

Governor Hickenlooper had the 1.3 million dollars allocated for the Colorado Office of Film Television & Mediain his budget presented before the start of the session and Senators were on board with that amount. But Zuckerman says that was before the film industry started eyeing Colorado.  

“At the time that he did his initial budget, we had only spent a million of the actual $4 million. But now we’ve spent the entire $ 4 million and we have numerous projects lined up. The Governor’s intention is to continue with the incentives and to grow it and not to shut it down. So I still believe we can do that and it will happen,” Zuckerman said.

So what will it take to make that happen? Zuckerman says the commission needs at least $4 million  again, but would prefer $5 million.

“The people who stood up in the Senate and said this is a giveaway to a billion dollar industry are mistaken because the parties who come here and take advantage of our incentives are for the most part independent films or smaller products that can’t be made without these incentives. So anybody who thinks they are going to come anyway is sorely mistaken,” Zuckerman said.

The state's total budget for next year including federal money and cash funds is about $20.5 billion.

Lawmakers have control over the estimated $8.2 billion general fund and they’re still Colorado working on the spending specifics.

The money allocated for the Colorado Office of Film Television & Media could be increased when lawmakers debate the spending package in the House next week.

My journalism career started in college when I worked as a reporter and Weekend Edition host for WEKU-FM, an NPR member station in Richmond, KY. I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.A. in broadcast journalism.
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