Story’s Androw uses new tax credits to stretch ever-tighter commercial budgets and win work

Story executive producer Mark Androw produced the first commercial last month under the new 20% tax incentive?his 27th job utilizing the Illinois tax incentive to stretch increasingly tighter budgets for increasingly ambitious projects.

“The incentives are tremendous tool in my arsenal,” said Androw, who spent last week in L.A. pitching the value of Illinois incentives to L.A. production houses.

For the past three years Story has used the incentives “as a tool to meet our clients’ budgets?and they just got better.” The company will continue to use them as the same pace, “but they’re now a greater financial advantage,” he said.

“We’re not bidding jobs anymore, we’re backing into numbers. The client may say, ?we’re got $250,000 for the project but the budget is short of what it takes.’ The tax credit allows us to make the job happen.”

That’s how Story, the only Chicago company invited to bid, was able to extend the budget for a spot for a Lip Fusion, an A. Eicoff client that won Story the job.

“The agency had enough money for two days of shooting, but the director wanted three days,” Androw explained. “Because the agency assigned me the tax credit, I had the wherewithal to offer the shoot that one extra day and got the job.”

Although advertiser, agency or production company can apply for the credit, only one of the three can obtain it.

It’s easier when the production company is the incentive recipient, he said. “We’ve got accounting people and the reporting apparatus, which seems the most efficient way of handling it. We then can use the credits to make the budgets work for the client.”

Over the long run, the new incentives, Androw believes, “will have a very huge, very positive impact on commercial production,” a sector that has noticeably languished over the past five years.

With its 20% tax break on Illinois wages and supplies, Androw noted that Illinois is competitive to places like Argentina, Prague, South Africa, often favorite locations of directors who feel they can wring more out of their dollars there.

Androw enthusiastically urges agencies and spot houses to take advantage of the incentives. “Applying for them is not complicated,” he assured.

In fact, Joyce Davis in the Illinois Film Office, is dedicated to explain the application process and benefits to spotmakers. Her number is 312/814-3600.

You can also find more about the incentives and how they can benefit your business at

Androw and Story are located at 401 W. Superior; phone, 312/642-3173. See