House passes Illinois Film Tax Credit extension, now en route through the Senate for final vote

THE TAX EXTENSION IS ON ITS WAY! The Illinois House voted 107-7 to extend Illinois’ generous 20% tax credits. The bill was introduced to the House by speaker Michael Madigan .

From there, the bill goes to the Senate and wends its way through committes and ultimately to the Senate floor for a vote ? assuming all goes according to plan. It’s difficult to say when to pop corks — everyone’s hoping before the end of the month — so stay tuned.

Tax credit applications are stacked up at the IF0 and everyone is raring to go on what could be another record film for movie and spot production in the Land of Lincoln.

Since its inception in 2003, the Illinois Production Alliance has engaged the services of an effective lobbying firm to keep the needs of the film industry before legislative leaders in Springfield.

For information about the IPA, call president Sandra Gordon at 312/316-0303.

THANKS TO THE TAX INCENTIVES the state will enjoy a record $175 million in 2007 film production. The unofficial, although exceedingly reliable first pass at the figures shows $145 million from features and, as ad agencies and their clients catch on to the incentives — a second year of $30 million in spot production.

CHICAGO COULD HAVE A RECORD 2008 with Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies,” budgeted at a breathtaking $100 to $300 million, shooting here starting in March.

Christian Bale returns to Chicago (he was here last summer with “The Dark Knight” ) to play fabled FBI agent Melvin Purvis, who led the manhunt for John Dillinger ( Johnny Depp ) and captured more public enemies than any other agent in FBI history.

“Public Enemies” launches The Third Coast of production as it shoots 45 days in Illinois and 35 days in Wisconsin.

One main Wisconsin location is the Little Bohema Lodge in Manitowish Waters where Dillinger and “Baby Face Nelson” had a shoot out with FBI agents in 1934. Another location is Baraboo, where time stood still, for a ’30s bank that Dillinger couldn’t resist robbing.

BACK ON THE LOCAL SCENE: Matt Damon will star in director Steven Soderburgh’s “The Informant,” slated for production in Decatur early in 2008.

Based on a book by Kurt Eichenwald, the story is about an Archer-Daniels-Midland executive who becomes the star witness for the government when it goes after the agri-business giant after a price-fixing accusation.

FOCUS FEATURES brings an untitled feature to Chicago for nine weeks in March. The supernatural thriller is directed by David Goyer, who also wrote the script. DP is James Hawkinson.

The story follows an 18-year-girl who realizes she is slowly being possessed and begins to fight back. Rogue Pictures is the production company.

“OSSO BUCCO,” the Chicago-made comedy starring Mike Starr and Illiana Douglas, opens the 2008 season of the Midwest Independent Film Festival Feb. 5 at the Century Centre Cinema. Co-directors Gary Taylor and Fred Blurton> and representative cast members will attend.

SPEAKING AT A SUNDANCE FUNCTION Jan. 22, entertainment law attorney Hal (Corky) Kessler will share his expertise on the important but understated Federal Tax Incentives as they relate to the American Job Creation Act, at the Yallow Hotel in Park City. Kessler is with the law firm of Levin & Ginsburgh.

IFP’S ANNUAL 2008 PRODUCERS SERIES March 29-30 and April 12-13 will focus on producing documentaries and feature leading local doc producers, potential funders, distributors and broadcast outlets. It’ll be held at Columbia College.

FORMER IFO DIRECTOR SUSIE KELLETT will retire from the Washington State Film Office at the end of the month. She served there for more than 10 years after leaving the Illinois post, where she had worked under Governors Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar.

Her many friends here wish her the best as she transitions into a new phase of her life.

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