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Mississippi, Tennessee Announce New Incentive Programs

Both states now highly competitive

By Pamela Cole

April 17, 2007--Both Tennessee and Mississippi recently announced new motion picture incentive programs. This puts these southern states in the running to attract new film production, and makes Mississippi a front runner, following closely behind Louisiana, the #1 southern state in film production revenue.

"Mississippi has seen what is going on across the border in Louisiana, and they have decided to get in on it," said Mike Akins, chairman of Economic Development through Georgia Entertainment (EDGE). EDGE is responsible for taking requests for incentive legislation to the Georgia government.

The new Mississippi incentive package includes a rebate on all production expenditures in Mississippi, including local payroll, in the following amounts:

  • 20% of the first $1 million of the local spend;
  • 25% of the next $4 million of the local spend; and
  • 30% of the local spend over $5 million

It also includes:

  • 10% rebate for payroll paid to out-of-state cast and crew whose salary is less than $1 million.
  • Sales and use tax exemption or reductions (up to 7%) on many items purchased for film production in the state. For more information, see www.visitmississippi.org/film.

Meanwhile, in late March 2007, Tennessee announced three new incentive programs consisting of a series of tax rebates, a headquarters incentive, and a $10 million grant program for filmmakers.

"These three incentive programs will place Tennessee squarely among the most production-friendly locations in the U.S.," said Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission executive director, Perry Gibson. "Building on Tennessee-based films like Walk the Line, Hustle and Flow, and 21 Grams,we're showing that Tennessee is a prime location for filmmakers seeking artistic and economic success."

"Tennessee has long welcomed artists, no matter which creative medium they choose to work in," said Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. "Our state is a creative center for the music business and I believe this program allows us to build the same synergies in film and television entertainment as well."

Under the new incentives, visual production companies headquartered outside the state while filming projects in Tennessee with a budget of at least $500,000 are eligible for rebates equal to 13% of the production's "below the line" costs. If at least 25% of the production's cast and crew are hired in Tennessee, an additional 2% rebate is available, for a total of 15%. Another 2% rebate is available if the production also spends at least $20,000 in post-production for the use of music created or recorded by Tennesseans, making the total rebate 17%.

The same rebates are available for Tennessee-based production companies with an in-state production budget of $200,000 for the project.

Film production companies that establish a permanent headquarters facility in Tennessee and incur a minimum of $1 million in qualified expenses in the state may be eligible for a 15% refund of the company's qualified expenses. If a production company does not have a qualifying headquarters, but spends at least $1 million in qualified expenses, a company's investor may receive the refund as long as they have a headquarters facility in Tennessee.

In addition, filmmakers who reside in Tennessee can now apply for a grant of up to $40,000 for the development and completion of qualified film or digital productions.

Applications for each of the incentive programs must be made to the Tennessee Film, Entertainment, and Music Commission. For more information, see www.state.tn.us/film.