Joint Finance Committee approves film bill

Wisconsin took a big step toward becoming one of
the more “movie friendly” states in the nation Friday when the Legislature’s Joint Finance
Committee approved Senate Bill 563.

The vote on the Film Wisconsin incentive bill was 15-1. If it becomes law, it would offer tax credits to qualifying film
productions doing work in the state.

While a last minute amendment to the bill – which would make the incentives effective July 1, 2007 -delays implementation of the incentives, backers said creative solutions will be explored to attract productions to the state prior to that date.

The next step for the bill is approval from the full senate and the full assembly
when they next convene, reportedly at the end of April. Once approved by both
houses, the bill will go to the Governor for his signature, which he indicated he
will sign.

“Since being introduced earlier this year by lead sponsors State Senator Ted Kanavas
and Representative Curt Gielow, the bi-partisan, statewide support for this
legislation has been most gratifying,” said George Tzougros, executive director of
the Wisconsin Arts Board in Madison and a member of the Film Wisconsin Task Force.

“The leadership by Joint Finance co-chairs Senator Fitzgerald and Rep. Kaufert and
Senator Darling and the action of the entire committee brings us one step closer to
creating a viable film industry in the state which has the potential to pump
millions of new dollars into the economy.

“We also want to thank the members of our film, hospitality and tourism, business
and other creative industry partners for their active work to educate the members of
the legislature on the economic benefits of this bill, added Tzougros.”

More than $30 million of potential film projects have recently expressed interest in
working in Wisconsin, provided the incentives become law, said Scott Robbe, a FILM
Wisconsin task force member and a Madison-based filmmaker.

“Since the delay in the
legislation’s effective date may jeopardize these projects, we plan to forge
private/public partnerships and work with these production companies on a
project-by-project basis to develop desirable incentives and win these productions
to Wisconsin prior to July 2007.”