Letter From The Director
It’s late July in Tucson, the monsoon rains have arrived and it's the beginning of a new fiscal year. We had a great year in economic development terms… over 400 days of production, 11,000+ hotel room nights, 7658 job days (i.e. each full day worked by a local) and over $20 million in Economic Impact. What’s surprising is that we had this much production without a single big budget, mega watt, studio motion picture.
Instead we hosted two T.V. series, one from Italy and one from Oprah, independent feature films from Switzerland, Los Angeles and New York, commercials for the European and Canadian markets and documentaries from Mexico, England and Japan. And like clockwork, the Latino Producers’ Academy came and will return again in August for their 5th consecutive year. That’s the global bird’s eye view. The locals have been busy too: Patrick Roddy, Rick Rose, Ben Lopez and James Arnett producing features while several shorts and docs were also locally produced by our prolific community.
We here in Baja Arizona haven’t yet benefited from the new Arizona Motion Picture Tax Incentives, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. We chased a slate of projects in early pre-production and aggressively marketed our Tucson Convention Center as a soundstage, our cooperative city and county governments, our hard working crew base, local talent and, of course, our outstanding locations. They were enamored with it all, but once they found out that they weren’t eligible for the tax credits, they quickly moved on … to New Mexico, Louisiana and others with available incentives. Gone are the days when the look of the location itself factored highly in the decision. Now a script will simply be rewritten to accommodate the location in a state with incentives. The script calls for saguaros and a craggy mountain pass? Change that to moss-laden trees in a Louisiana bayou.
Accordingly, under the leadership of the Arizona Film and Media Coalition, we supported new legislation that amended Arizona’s Motion Picture Tax incentive, increasing the tax credits from 20% to 30% on a $1 million and above spend and increasing the cap. The 2008 incentive also offers an infrastructure credit (read “soundstage”) equal to 15% of investment, and it sets aside a portion of the credits for commercials and music videos. There’s more work that needs to be done starting with this legislative session in September. Please watch for updates at filmtucson.com and support the effort to make Arizona’ incentives the best and most reliable in the country.
If you are planning to apply for 2008 Arizona Motion Picture Incentives, do note that Arizona Tax Credits are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Applications will be accepted on November 1, 2007 for 2008 so you must apply then to get in the queue (you can get e-mail updates from the Arizona Film Office). Last year, rumor has it, all the available tax credits, $40 million, were captured by the end of the day. This year we have $50 million so it might take a couple hours longer.
Director, Tucson Film Office
Feature Films Find Fabulous Locations, Crew & Talent in Tucson
These last few months have seen a multitude of independent films utilize Tucson as a scenic backdrop. SNAPPERS, a rags-to-riches comedy directed by Jeff Balsmeyer (DANNY DECKCHAIR) and starring up-and-coming thespians as Dallas Roberts, Jeffrey Renner, Richard Kind (pictured at left, wearing tie) and Ayelet Zurer) found southern Arizona to be the perfect location thanks to our versatile scenery and can-do crewbase. Other notable features we assisted recently: THE LAST BLAST, a gritty road comedy/drama which came our way via Switzerland, the stirring documentary IN THE FAMILY (made by Kartemquin Films, the creators of the acclaimed HOOP DREAMS), the indie drama THE SCARLET CROSS (which filmed at Pima Air & Space Museum) and FAVORITE SON, which visited us from the state of New Jersey. If that weren’t enough, Sabino Canyon played the lead role (as it were) in the environmental period drama JACKRABBIT SKY, a feature film out of New York City, local filmmaker Ben Lopez's new Spanish language feature LA VENGANZA (THE REVENGE) used our city's urban landscapes for his new action/thriller, and the latest expressionist feature by Tucson producer/director Patrick Roddy discovered plenty of unique spots in which to film his newest mood piece RED 71.
Tucson On Television
The Old Pueblo played host to a strong roster of television commercials and television series in the last few months. You’ve probably been watching these very productions without even being aware it was Tucson which you were viewing. One of a series of ads for Ameriprise (all of them starring the iconic Dennis Hopper alongside some gorgeous Tucson locations, like the one pictured at left) were shot in the Tucson Mountains, followed quickly by two car commercials: Gearhead (a Canadian production company) found a variety of landscapes in which to film a fantastic Chevy truck commercial and Lamborghini utilized Willcox Playa as a dramatic backdrop. Tucson enjoyed two Oprah-related visits in the last few months alone: first, Ms. Winfrey brought her famous talk show over to Miraval Resort for a focus on wellness, followed a few months later by the arrival of The Big Give, Oprah’s new inspirational pay-it-forward reality/game show. Tucson also played host to the We Network’s new series Girl Meets Cowboy (think The Bachelor with spurs), a segment of John Ratzenberger's Made In America, and a BBC/Discovery Channel documentary on comets (the producers knew instinctively that our wide-open skies make star gazing so much easier). By far, the longest shoot was an Italian reality show titled The Wild West, which was a sort of Survivor-meets-City Slickers scenario in which contestants are flown in from towns around Italy and forced to endure nearly two months of hardship working on an Arizona dude ranch.