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Should Washington Extend The State Film Competitiveness Program?

Marcie Sillman

State lawmakers are considering a bill that gives filmmakers a financial incentive to work in Washington. The bill was approved by the full Senate today (Tuesday). KUOW's Marcie Sillman has more.


Ever wonder why so many movies about Seattle were actually shot in Vancouver, BC?

That's because filmmakers get financial incentives to work there, according to film industry insiders, They wanted to level the playing field.

So, in 2007, Washington state started to offer its own incentives. The Motion Picture Competitiveness Program gives certain film projects up to 30 percent cash rebates on in–state expenditures. Those expenditures include anything from set construction to wages and benefits paid to Washington residents. The money is only paid out after filming, and a panel approves the rebate. Analysts for the state Legislature found the program has generated almost $70 million for state workers and businesses since it was started.

But the legislation that authorized the incentive program expired last summer. Bills that would extend its life through 2017 didn't make it out of the Legislature last year.

Seattle Democratic Senator Jeanne Kohl–Welles sponsored the bill to extend the program. She says it plays a key role in the state's economic development.

Kohl–Welles: "If we do not have films made here, or television programs made here, they'll be made elsewhere, and we do not get the jobs here. We do not get the tourism money that can come indirectly from people seeing a film and then wanting to come here. We do not get the business for caterers and hotels and restaurants and so forth. So it's a real win–win program."

Although the full Senate has approved the measure, the House of Representatives has taken no action yet on a companion bill introduced last winter. The state Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on March 8. I'm Marcie Sillman, KUOW News.

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