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Luring filmmakers to Washington

Jan Cook
Washington Filmworks
Setting up a shot for Seattle-filmed feature The Details, starring Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Banks.

Movies are a big business for states. Washington is one of 44 that offer financial incentives for people who decide to film here. But that incentive might disappear in June.

Remember this movie? It made Washington a popular place for filmmakers to shoot:

Currently, there’s a nonprofit devoted to offering incentives for movies made here. It’s called Washington Filmworks.

It’s hoping to get more funding in the legislature’s special session. If the bill fails, they won’t be able to offer monetary incentives after June.

Becky Bogard is the director of Washington Filmworks. She says the movie business has brought in more than $100 million dollars since 2007. And nearly 60 movies have been made here in the past four years.

"I can’t tell you how many would have been made here if there had been no incentive. But I can guess that it would have been almost zero. Because filmmakers today have their choice of places to go because states are so competitive in trying to recruit this business."

A number of movies have benefited from the incentive, which offers 30 percent cash back on in-state expenditures. Most of them are independent films, but there have been some big-name pictures, too, like “World’s Greatest Dad,” starring Robin Williams.

Bogard says the incentive has helped maintain Washington’s competitiveness with Vancouver BC, where it’s often cheaper to make movies.

People really want to live here, and they want to live here, and they want to work here. And that’s what this program has allowed people in the movie industry to do.

The special session could last a month. Bills that would continue funding the incentive have been introduced in the House and the Senate.