CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — Lights, camera, action. Missouri is hoping to get back into the movie industry by luring production companies with tax credits.
It’s been more than a decade since the state has offered tax incentives for big productions. Governor Mike Parson signed off Tuesday on the Show MO Act in Chesterfield, with the hopes of getting Missouri back into the action.
“People are going to have opportunities of a lifetime to be in this arena, and to have it here at home is a pretty special day,” Parson said before signing the bill.
Since a similar law expired in 2013, Missouri has been losing out on big projects to other states.
“Before we had ‘Gone Girl,’ ‘Up in the Air,’ and some other motion pictures that were filed in the state, but unfortunately, since 2012, we had had no major motion pictures filmed in the state,” Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, said. “They have gone to other competing states.”
Hoskins, the sponsor of Senate Bill 94, says he has been working on the bipartisan legislation for a decade, trying to bring production companies to Missouri by offering tax credits.
Most recently, the state lost big on “Ozark.” Despite being set in the Lake of the Ozarks, it was filmed in Atlanta because there were no incentives here in Missouri.
“It gives us the ability to help our constituents out and help the people of Missouri with some really high-paying jobs and get that experience,” Sen. Doug Beck, D-St. Louis, said. “Quite frankly, right now, we train a lot of these folks, and then they leave the state to do these jobs.”
Beck also worked behind the scenes. The final product, giving a 20% tax credit for all qualifying film productions with extra incentives to hire Missouri residents or partially film in rural parts of the state.
The Show MO Act has a $16 million cap. Here’s how it works.
- 20% tax credit for all qualifying film productions
- Extra 5% if at least 15% of the production if filmed in rural or blighted area
- Extra 5% if a certain number of Missouri residents are hired on these productions
- Extra 5% if the productions depict the state or region in a positive light
The Department of Economic Development decides which productions are approved.
Production companies will be required to submit an application with the state and prove they have the financing for the project. After the company is approved and the filming takes place in Missouri, production companies must then go to an independent Missouri-licenses CPA to do an audit of the spending.
Then, the state will do a secondary audit to make sure the money is spent correctly.
“When you look at our state, how diverse Missouri is, whether you’re in the big cities, the outdoors, the rural area, you have all the makings for about anything you want to do in the film industry,” Parson said.
The governor is putting pen to paper at the future home of one of the largest music and film production facilities in the country. Gateway Studios and Production Services is set to open next spring. The four-studio campus is estimated to cost $11 million on a 32-acre site just north of Spirit of St. Louis Airport.
The site will include a 330,000-square-foot complex and have more than 100 highly skilled music and film manufacturing and production professionals. GSPS will be the place where live touring stages are designed, built, and manufactured.
Once the campus is fully built, there will be offices, conference and dressing rooms, on-site catering, sound stages, green screen studios, live-streaming, and a full range of audio, lighting, and video manufacturing and production services.
The Entertainment Industry Jobs Act is also included in SB 94 with the hopes of bringing the music industry to the state by giving credits for rehearsals and tour expenses.
“For me to pursue my career in the music industry, I had to leave Missouri to find work opportunities elsewhere,” Trey Kerr, chief executive officer of Gateway Studios and Production Services, said. “There are thousands of other Missourians who have had the same struggle, and today, this legislation will allow them to stay in Missouri and pursue their careers here.”
Under the Entertainment Jobs Act, if an artist like Taylor Swift or Kenny Chesney were to practice at GSPS’ new facility in Chesterfield, the only way they will qualify for the tax credits is if the performer has rehearsals at one of the qualified facilities for at least 10 days, holds at least two concerts in the state, and purchases or rents at least $1 million of concert equipment from a Missouri vendor.
When asked why it took the General Assembly more than a decade to approve the tax credits again, Parson said it’s a topic that isn’t easy to get across the finish line.
“Part of it is the tax credit issue,” Parson said. “There’s always opposition to tax credits no matter what they are. You just have to make sure you educate people on really what is the benefit for this tax credit and how do we gain from that.”
The Show MO Act is set to expire Dec. 31, 2029, and the Entertainment Industry Jobs Act will sunset a year later, unless extended by the General Assembly.