Woodrow Wilcox: Simple steps can boost film and television production in Indiana

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I have some suggestions for increasing film, television, and other media production in Indiana. I have some experience in this industry that gives me insights others may not have.

In the early 1980’s I produced a talk show for a Los Angeles television station. In the mid to late 1980’s I was an actor in about a dozen movies and a dozen TV shows filmed in Las Vegas. I’ve worked with Jerry Lewis, Stacey Keach, Martin Sheen, Kirstie Alley and others. In Florida I worked with Willard Scott on a TV show and I was a regular backing cast on the show Superboy. My last major TV show role was as an evil alien scientist on an episode of Power Rangers.

I’m not saying this to show off, I’m saying this to add credibility to my comments.

Indiana is one of the few states that doesn’t have tax incentives for media production. I believe Indiana would benefit if it offered some simple incentives.

Indiana has talent for film, television, radio and new media production. But there is no financial reason for production companies to use the state. Indiana’s geography is not as dramatic or attractive as some other states’ mountains, deserts, beaches, swamps, cities, and towns. Without financial incentives, Indiana has little chance of attracting productions – especially large productions.

It’s more realistic to start with small incentives and legislative changes to help Indiana’s native manufacturing workers and companies.

Here are some changes I suggest.

Give production companies an exemption from Indiana lodging tax and sales tax for their productions. This small exception would help smaller producers enormously. The board and lodging of actors and crew members can cost a lot of money. Giving this hiatus would help encourage production of shows in Indiana.

Exempt Indiana income taxes for non-Indiana based actors or crews. Virginia exempts the first $25,000 of income earned by nonresidents within Virginia. Indiana penalizes foreigners by requiring outsiders who visit Indiana to help with production to file nonresident income tax returns. This is nonsense and hurts Indiana’s efforts to attract production.

Indiana is already strong in the insurance industry. Make it easy for production companies to get production insurance in Indiana, even if they don’t shoot all parts of a production in Indiana.•

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Wilcox lives in Dyer and is a former actor and producer.

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