The film industry is good for Oklahoma. Filming has taken place in over 28 of our state’s communities. With diverse film locations from Sayre to Tulsa and Waurika to Davis and many points in between, film is an equal opportunity industry where small towns are on a level playing field with major cities in their ability to attract productions. In 2009, the Oklahoma Film & Music Office scouted locations in over 75 communities spanning 45 counties across the state.
OF&MO worked with OU’s Price School of Business in 2005 to secure an Economic Impact Study. Using the IMPLAN model and local data, the study concluded that for every dollar spent in Oklahoma’s film industry, an impact of $1.72 is made on our state’s economy. Impact numbers for Oklahoma’s film industry have grown from $11 million in 2005 to $25.6 million in 2009. According to current projections, those numbers could reach $43 million in 2010, an almost 400 percent increase over 2005.
For last year’s production of the film The Killer Inside Me, a story set in Texas, OF&MO secured filming of all but one location here in Oklahoma due to recruitment efforts and the fact that Oklahoma’s incentives program is more lucrative than what is offered by Texas. In a production span of six weeks, the production spent roughly $3 million in Oklahoma. The impact of that $3 million expenditure generated $5.1 million for our state’s economy. Money was spent in Cordell, Enid, Guthrie, Oklahoma City and Tulsa on items such as local labor, hotel rooms, facility and equipment rentals, meals and props, to name a few. That is new money put directly into the hands of Oklahoma’s people and businesses.
Once all Oklahoma payroll, sales and corporate taxes were paid by The Killer Inside Me production, the projected impact to the state’s budget on their $440,000 rebate nets down to $70,897 or 1.6%. A $71,000 investment with a $5 million impact is a smart use of state tax dollars. Few Oklahoma tax credits offer that kind of return or immediate impact.
By limiting the State’s film rebate to only Oklahoma expenditures and taxable transactions and subjecting production companies to stringent final rebate application expenditure reviews before payouts are issued, the State has safeguards in place to prevent corruption.
Long term benefits for supporting and sustaining film in Oklahoma are the creation of a new industry and jobs. These are not just temporary jobs related to the actual production of a film, but come in the form of attracting and growing new companies and permanent jobs across the board to support the film industry. That translates to new money and new tax dollars in Oklahoma.
After several years of playing catch up, Oklahoma is fortunate to now have competitive film incentives, attracting A-list projects, and we are just getting started. Why have a tool box if we are not going to use the tools?