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Savings in Showbiz: Financial Benefits in the Film and Television Industry

There are many ways to save when making a film. The more obvious ones are hiring lesser-known actors, shooting in fewer locations, working with small crews, and reducing special effects. However, these all tend to cut into the vision of the creators. So, what are some other ways to save money on filmmaking without as much compromise for the vision?

In this article, we’ll dive into saving money on producing films and television shows by utilizing tax credits and rebates and obtaining grants so you can make the film you want without compromise.

Tax Credits and Rebate in Film

In layman’s terms, a tax credit is a reduction in the amount one owes in taxes to the government.

There are 2 Types of Tax Credits:

  1. Refundable tax credits: In the beginning, you’ll be directed to pay a lump sum of taxes you owe to the state and federal governments. However, If you end up with more tax credits than you owed in the first place, you’ll be refunded for the exceeding difference, so you get some money back.
  2. Transferable Tax Credits: If one’s film production doesn’t warrant overly burdensome taxation, your tax credits can be sold to a production with higher tax liabilities. This can be helpful if you have a production company making films with a range of budget amounts.

The Role of Rebates

Rebates happen when a state attempts to incentivize filmmaking within its jurisdiction by offering cashback based on a percentage spent on a production made in said state.

A rebate can be more attractive than a tax incentive because it usually means a quicker turnaround. Filmmakers often cannot wait to be refunded until tax season comes around in the following year, so getting a rebate as soon as filming is done can be extremely helpful.

Video Production

Many States offer Tax Credits for Film and Television Productions

Specific States That Offer Tax Breaks and Rebates

  • Louisiana offers one of the most aggressive tax credits of up to 40% on in-state expenditures, making it a great place to save money and capture a classic American city with rich culture and striking architecture. More can be found on the city of New Orleans’ website.
  • New Mexico now provides a 25-30% refundable tax credit on all direct and post-production expenses without any cap on the total credit a production can receive. So, if you’re shooting something big-budget, New Mexico is a unique spot for a film with a lot to offer in terms of savings. Here’s the official site with New Mexico’s tax credit information.
  • Oklahoma’s Film Enhancement Rebate Program offers a rebate of up to 37%. So, if you’re a filmmaker tight on cash, Oklahoma would be an ideal place to get your shooting done, then collect your rebate swiftly.
  • Montana, known for its expansive sky, numerous babbling brooks, diverse wildlife, and soaring snow-capped mountains, offers the Big Sky Film Grant. This grant provides multiple incentives, including a cash rebate of up to 25% on qualified expenditures.

Many states across the US offer tax breaks to filmmakers, so keep your mind open and your script location flexible because it may allow some funds to be transferred into other aspects of the film.

Bonus tips on Maximizing Tax Benefits

Turn your applications in early! Deadlines come up faster than most expect, so finish them far before shooting begins to distract you and the team.

Keeping track of documentation and compliance is going to be difficult. That’s why the organization is key! Maintain thorough records of all your expenditures to ensure you obtain all the benefits you qualify for, especially if your tax break savings are already plotted into the budget.

The Last Act: Leveraging Tax Breaks for Your Film

When making a film, one has to be a master of balancing the budget with creative vision. That’s why leveraging tax breaks, first and foremost, is the perfect way to start saving without derailing the creative aspects of your project.

States like Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Montana offer majestic American backdrops and lucrative tax credits, rebates, and grants, making them desirable new places to shoot your next film. Taking your film to these places can surely help your budget, but it can also enrich the local communities in these states by spreading wealth and art into uncharted film territory.

By strategically saving money on your next film project with meticulous record keeping, open-minded location scouting, and a keen eye for tax breaks, you can enhance the art in your film without compromise.








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