Film Bill Fails to Pass

S. 667 may not be the best known Senate bill, but it would likely have brought millions of dollars to South Carolina if it had been renewed earlier this month.

The S.C. Film Incentive Act has been a major lure for production companies looking for financial rebates and tax breaks. While 2006’s rebates of up to 20 percent on wages and up to 30 percent on expenditures are still in place, local filmmakers were hoping for greater perks to draw in potential employers — ones that will otherwise go to alternate states with better rebate packages.

States will go a long way to grab a chunk of the estimated $3 billion spent on locations nationwide every year. Louisiana offers a 25 percent Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit; Florida passed a $10 million Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive for last year.

This year it looked like S.C. was going Hollywood with several major projects shooting here. But the State Commerce Department has decided to trim wage rebates for out-of-state residents working on productions. In theory this is a good idea, intended to encourage the hiring of residents and suppliers from this state. In practice, it could mean a move for Lifetime TV hit Army Wives to North Carolina or another state where they can continue to use their own workforce with competitive wage rebates.

Since the official figures aren’t in for the concluding fiscal year, it’s hard to tell just how much of an impact Wives and other productions have had on our region. Small businesses, suppliers, and restaurants have benefited from the productions here. The local filmmakers’ organization, the Carolina Film Alliance, will be talking to affected businesses and getting some numbers together. This will help their case when they talk to legislators and promote a pre-filing of a fresh bill in October.