An estimated 35 states offer special incentives to lure filmmakers. Wisconsin is the most recent to jump on the bandwagon, offering tax credits and more:
- But the key provision appears to be a section that goes beyond tax forgiveness. Essentially, it pays film companies for up to 25% of their non-wage production expenses - such things as hotel rooms, car rentals, meals, set construction, film processing and sound mixing - incurred within Wisconsin.
States like Louisiana, New Mexico, South Carolina and Illinois, have particularly aggressive programs:
- "Everybody's jacking everything up before you can turn around," Bill Arnold, director of the North Carolina Film Office, said of states rushing to sweeten the pot.
North Carolina's film industry - among the country's leaders outside of California - developed more than 20 years ago without state-sponsored incentives, but today tax breaks and other financial carrots are considered crucial in competing for movie-makers' attentions.
Some states look almost like car dealers in the way they promote their offers.
On the Illinois Film Office Web site, users find their way to details on the state's new incentives by clicking on a two-inch-high dollar sign superimposed on pile of money.
On the South Carolina Film Commission site, an explanation of the generous rebates available carries a blunt headline: "South Carolina Pays Cash."
Add this to the always-growing list of fads that political types fall for.
Related: Fad lovers II
Maybe some day it'll be cool to do the important things right.