Bringing back the blockbusters

Wylie Galt hopes to give filmmakers tax incentive with HB293
By: 
CHARLIE DENISON
Reporter
Friday, February 8, 2019

Kevin Costner stars in the TV series “Yellowstone,” which has many scenes filmed at the Chief Joseph Ranch in Darby, Montana. 

Photo courtesy of Debra Fazio, Paramount Network

Representative Wylie Galt (R-Martinsdale) is sponsoring a bill to bring more movies (and film crews) to the Treasure State.

Inspired by the now defunct Big Sky on the Big Screen Act, Galt’s House Bill 293 hopes to entice movie companies by providing a significant tax incentive.

“HB293 offers 20 percent in state tax credits to filmmakers,” said Galt, “and the filmmakers have an opportunity to increase this tax incentive. If they hire Montana workers it bumps the incentive to 25 or 30 percent. If they provide college students with on-the-job training, they can get another 5-10 percent.”

Film companies can also earn more tax incentives by promoting that the film was made in Montana, Galt said.

Such incentives are modeled after Georgia’s recent incentive program, which Galt said reported “$9.5 billion in economic returns” from the media production industry. 

“Georgia has the best tax incentives for movies, and it’s really made an impact,” Galt said. “Before Georgia did this they were making 40 movies a year. Now it’s up to around 4,000 movies (and shows) a year. It’s a major part of their economy.”

Galt said he’s received a lot of support from the bill, but he’s also aware there is some opposition.

“A lot of people were against the last bill (Big Sky on the Big Screen) because it wasn’t doing much,” said Galt. “It only offered a tax incentive of around 9 percent, which was not a good enough incentive.”

Most of the opposition, Galt added, is just based on tax incentives in general.

“Some people don’t like tax credits, no matter what the tax credit is for,” Galt said. 

If his bill passes, Galt said he believes the tax incentive can help boost the economy and increase tourism.

“There is nothing better to bolster tourism than someone seeing the state in a movie and then wanting to go see it in person,” Galt said.

This has already proven to be the case in Paradise Valley, Galt added, referring to the increase in tourism Montana experienced after Robert Redford’s “A River Runs Through It” released in 1992, introducing many to the beauty of Montana. 

More films and shows are coming along and doing the same, Galt said, adding that his recent favorite is the Paramount show, “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner.

“I like it as a rancher because it shows what we do and how it works,” Galt said. “They have it somewhat accurate. The water law they describe is wrong, but that’s Hollywood. It adds to the drama.”

HB293 had its first hearing Thursday and Galt said it went well and he’s feeling optimistic.

“People see the value in it,” he said. “We are going to make some amendments to the bill to try and bring down the fiscal note to get it passed. We will know more in a couple of days.”

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