Lights! Camera! Legislation!
March 1, 2008
DENVER ” Nearly 20 years ago when “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” was filmed throughout about four weeks in Breckenridge, close to $1 million poured into the local economy, said Ann Lukacs, owner of Blue River Productions.
Today, to compete globally and bring the film industry to Colorado, incentives are essential, said Lukacs, who has been in the motion picture industry for 30 years. She began working in locations when the film starring Chevy Chase was in the county, and most recently helped bring “The Bucket List” to Arapahoe Basin. And while incentives drive locations, as of now the state’s incentives are not competitive, according to information from Senator Dan Gibbs.
So Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, will be co-sponsoring a bill that would establish a $10 million tax incentive to bring the industry to Colorado.
It hasn’t been introduced yet, but Gibbs, Representatives Tom Massey and Cheri Jahn, and Senator Nancy Spence are working on this “unique bill,” Gibbs said.
So far, the legislators have met with Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien and heard positive feedback, and Thursday the House sponsor met with Gov. Bill Ritter, he added.
According to information from the Colorado Film Commission that was put together when an incentive bill was pitched a couple years ago, an average feature film will spend about $100,000 a day when in production. Also, for every dollar spent on production, an additional $2.50 is spend in the wider economy including hotels, shopping, restaurants, transportation.
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However, Colorado has lost out to areas with aggressive incentive programs, such as New Mexico, those in the industry said. Also, “RV” is an example of a movie that features a location set in Colorado, but was filmed in Canada. The lost revenue was $215 million, according to information from Gibbs.
“We definitely need to get more competitive if we want to play in that league,” Lukacs said.
The combination of intense spending, the bulk of which is for labor and equipment, and high wages creates a high multiplier effect, she explained. Additionally, filming in the area can mean advertising exposure and can help tourism, Lukacs said. For example, the producer of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” returned on vacation for several years, she added.
About two years ago Lukacs attended a Location Expo to pitch the area to films and “everyone wants to know what the incentives are,” she said.