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Let’s go to the movies

Gazette staff March 25th, 2014

The state’s television and film industry’s tax rebate program is still alive and well. For now.

The House and Senate voted to sustain Film Enhancement Rebate Program, aka House Bill 2580 (aka The Compete with Canada Film Act), would keep the rebate initiative alive through 2024. It now heads to the governor for perusal.

Not everybody’s happy about it. “The taxpayers of this state shouldn’t be forced to finance a film about a dysfunctional family,” said State Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, according to The Journal Record.

By dysfunctional, he means August:

Osage County, the critically acclaimed, star-studded black comedy-drama filmed in Bartlesville and Pawhuska. It was released in January and is written by Oklahoma native Tracy Letts. You know the one; his play of the same name won a Pulitzer prize.

But see, taxpayers aren’t really funding these “dysfunctional” movies like The Cherokee Word for Water, Rudderless, To the Wonder, The Veil, You Can’t Win, Running Deer, Yellow... Production companies may get up to 37 percent back to help pay for things like building sets (jobs), catering (jobs), production (jobs), film crews (jobs) and renting job locations (jobs). The money has to be spent by the film industry first — in Oklahoma. The payback for the state comes in money, industry strength and job growth.

“It’s not a tax credit, but a rebate, and that’s an important difference,” Sean Patrick Eaton of the Professional Filmmakers of Oklahoma replied.

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