Proposals to expand film credits for movie and television production in the islands are expected to be back before the Legislature next year.
The expanded tax credits were among the measures that died toward the end of the 2011 session.
But the success of recent productions such as “Hawaii Five-0” and the state’s ability to attract significant projects such as the most recent “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie and the forthcoming George Clooney film “The Descendants,” has lawmakers and industry leaders clamoring for more help to grow the local industry.
Said Chris Lee, founder of the University of Hawaii’s Academy for Creative Media:
“I think you have to look at the fact that we’ve had great success in this industry and now how do we build on that. … I think there’s enough data points from other places that have had success in managing the business, instead of just servicing the business, that we can get there.”
Lee was among the panelists who discussed the state of Hawaii’s film and television industry with House lawmakers today.
Other panelists included: Georja Skinner, administrator of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s Creative Industries Division; Karen Meyer, director of the Castle High School Performing Arts Center; Carol Kaapu of Pure Rain Productions, Brenda Ching of the Screen Actors Guild of Hawaii; and Don Sand of ProSuccess Films.
The informational briefing was held by the House committees on Culture & the Arts and Economic Revitalization & Business.
All agreed that more must be done in the area of workforce development, to grow, attract and retain film and television industry professionals in the islands. Current tax credits for film and TV production could be expanded to provide added incentive for such development.
Proposals that died in the Legislature last year would have increased existing film production tax credit to 35 percent from 15 percent on Oahu and to 40 percent from 20 percent on the neighbor islands, with 5 percent bonuses for productions involving computer-aided special effects and animation.
Changes also would have provided tax credits for new production facilities, rebates to help with a local crew training program, and exemptions from hotel room taxes for productions longer than 30 days.
Relativity Media LLC and Shangri-La Industries were among two major Hollywood entertainment companies seeking the additional tax breaks in Hawaii. The bill gained the support of actors such as Cuba Gooding Jr., who tesitfied before a Senate committee during session, and former President Bill Clinton, who wrote a letter in support.
Rep. Angus McKelvey, chairman of the House Economic Revitalization & Business committee, said he would reintroduce measures to expand the tax breaks.
The fact is, that this is a major industry, it’s a recession-proof industry, it’s the only industry that’s grown and Hawaii has — under its existing credit program — managed to successfully attract film production. But we have the potential, if we do it right, to turn this from four to five film projects a year into a major industry.