Senate passes 5-year, $25 mm cap grant-based film funding

Michigan’s formerly flourishing film industry had some life breathed into it by the senate’s passage of the Film Production Assistance Program (SB 569), a project-by-project grant-based funding system that has been employed this year.

SB 569 passed by a vote of 34-4 Thursday, Nov. 3, and heads to the house for passage.  GOP film industry advocate, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Randy Richardville, sponsored the bill.

“This legislation vastly improves upon a program that began a few years ago by rewarding those companies that invest in our state and build a long-term presence in Michigan,” Richardville said. “It is focused on jobs, the economy and Michigan workers.”

The bill nails down a $25 million cap per year until Sept. 30, 2017.  The $25 million cap set in 2011 was vigilantly doled out to small-to-medium budgets projects, and was exhausted within 10 months.

Some highlights of Film Assistance SB 369

• An eligible production company must have direct production expenditures and/or Michigan personnel expenditures of at least $100,000.

• Funding equal to 32% percent of spending on Michigan personnel would be available until 2015.  Thereafter the credit would drop to 27% percent.

• Incentive funding would be worth 27% for spending on out-of-state personnel, dropping to 12% in 2015.

• Incentives would cover 27% of a company’s direct production expenditures and a 3% percent incentive bonus for use of a Michigan studio or post-production facility.

• The Michigan Film Office will operate the new the Film and Digital Media Assistance Program, pay the production company and annually report about Program to the public.

Michigan’s former top-tier 40-42% rebate incentives attracted $300 million in entertainment production revenue in the less than three years the incentives were in effect.  Gov. Rick Snyder killed those incentives when he took office in 2011.