The Utah Film Commission works to promote the state as a destination for TV and movie productions. In 2015, 23 projects finished production in the state, including a network television series. The commission is now trying to keep that momentum in the year to come.
Utah Film Commission Director Virginia Pearce says there are lots of reasons why a production chooses to come to Utah. Some come for the unique red rock locations, others because of the many qualified crew members that live here. But Pearce says more and more, it’s something else that draws people to the state.
“In the film industry incentives really are the name of the game right now,” she says.
Utah has a little less than $7 million dollars each year to give back to productions in the form of tax credits. The credit ranges from a 20% return on actual spending in the state to as high as 25% if a production hires mostly Utahns.
“Since the incentive program was created in 2011 over $195 million have been spent in this state," she says. "So, I really do see that benefit. I also think that without the incentive program, or I know, that without the incentive program that we would not be in the game. That is the way that it’s played now.”
Pearce says the incentive was a big reason why the ABC drama Blood & Oil filmed their first, and ultimately, only season here.
Jeff Miller is the president of the Motion Picture Association of Utah and the production director at Vineyard Productions. He says a major television production brings huge value to the state and he hopes the film commission will do more in the future to specifically target them.
“If you’ve got a Touched By An Angel or you’ve got a Blood & Oil, you’ve got any of those projects in your community other people are hearing about it and they’re going, ‘I wonder why they went to Utah? We need to go there as well. If they’re there, my gosh, If they’re smart enough to go there we should be smart enough to go there as well,” he says.
While official numbers have yet to be tallied, Pearce says they estimate that productions contributed more than $20 million dollars to the state economy in 2015.