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Arts and Entertainment

State Senate Votes To Reduce Cap On Film Production Rebate

Brent Fuchs
The Journal Record
Tava Sofsky, director of the Oklahoma Film + Music Office, said the state's film rebate supports creators and entertainers.

Movie and TV studios may have reduced incentives to film in Oklahoma next year.


On Thursday, the State Senate approved a bill that would reduce the spending cap for the Oklahoma Film Rebate Enhancement Program from $5 million to $4 million.  


The program, administered by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office, was created in 2001 to encourage film and television production in the state. In 2009, it began offering a 35 percent rebate for productions that cost at least $50,000 and spend at least $25,000 in the state. While the annual rebate cap is $5 million, any rebates in excess of that amount can be paid in following years.

The goal of the rebate is to encourage job growth and business spending, and to improve the state’s public image.  


Tava Sofksy, director of the Oklahoma Film + Music Office, told The Journal Record that the rebate has been a gift to local entertainers and creators.


Sofsky said the common criticism about the program is that it pays bigwig production companies to come in and spend the state’s money. She said it actually keeps the state’s own entertainment market – and the different workers within it – thriving. “It’s not just Hollywood coming to town and taking advantage,” she said. “It’s so much more about keeping a creative industry here. They are hairstylists, electricians, construction workers.”


But according to an evaluation published by the State of Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission last year, the program has had mixed results so far, with an erratic pattern of economic output that has made it difficult to predict future costs or returns.


In fiscal year 2013, the rebate totaled over $5 million for two productions. In 2014, the rebate was over $1.2 million for five productions. And in 2015, the rebate was less than $1 million for six productions. The number of jobs created, tax revenue and labor income also varied widely in those years.


Because production jobs are usually temporary and transient, the Incentive Evaluation Commission could not determine the long-term advantage of cultivating a film and television industry in Oklahoma.

“Given the volatility of film industry employment, it is not clear that generating a long?term pipeline for film industry jobs is the most beneficial use of workforce training resources. There is real concern that such an investment might be preparing Oklahoma residents for jobs that fail to materialize in the future,” the report said.

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