Oklahoma taking on Hollywood with stepped-up financial incentives for film, TV productions
FX's 'Reservation Dogs,' Martin Scorsese and Apple Studios' 'Killers of The Flower Moon' among projects recently produced in Oklahoma
Oklahoma may give Hollywood a run for its money as a growing number of film and television productions have come to the state in recent years to take advantage of its financial incentives. Projects that have been recently been produced in Oklahoma include:
– Lionsgate's "The Unbreakable Boy," "Reagan," "I Can Only Imagine" and "American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story" (in theaters Dec. 25)
– FX's "Reservation Dogs," which will start filming its second season in Oklahoma soon
– Martin Scorsese and Apple Studios' "Killers of The Flower Moon," starring Leonardo DiCaprio
– Amblin Entertainment's "Stillwater"
– A24's "Minari"
– The second episode of the third season of Amazon Prime Video's "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"
– The Oklahoma City qualifiers for the 11th season of NBC's "American Ninja Warrior"
– Pure Flix's "The Beverlys"
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The Fiscal Year 2021 Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate program, which was created under the Filmed in Oklahoma Act of 2021 and signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt May 24, officially took effect July 1.
The program, run by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce's Film and Music Office, offers a rebate of up to 38% for projects filmed in the state. Every production is eligible to receive 20% cash back with additional incentives available for filming in rural counties and small municipalities, on certified sound stages and for TV projects and multi-film deals.
In addition, a separate stand-alone post-production incentive offers a maximum cash rebate of up to 25% for projects filmed outside of Oklahoma that want to do post-production work in the state.
In order to qualify, productions must have a budget of at least $50,000, with at least $25,000 that will be spent in Oklahoma on qualified production expenditures, such as salaries and equipment. The program, which has an annual cap of $30 million per fiscal year, allocates approximately $22.5 million to productions with a budget of at least $7.5 million, while the remaining funds go to productions with budgets of less than $7.5 million.
For films, at least one principal photography production day must occur in Oklahoma. For television pilots and seasons applying for the 2% TV pilot or 5% TV season uplifts, at least 75% of the television pilot or season must be filmed in Oklahoma. A pilot or television show that is filming less than 75% of the project in Oklahoma is still eligible for the program but will not be eligible for the uplifts.
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Rebate percentages are determined based on a project's benefits to the state, the amount of rebate payments conditionally prequalified by the department for the current fiscal year, the department's ability to commit funds to additional projects for the current fiscal year and the amount of incentive believed to be necessary to win the project.
Applications for the Filmed in Oklahoma Act of 2021 may be submitted no earlier than one year prior to the start of principal photography and no later than forty-five days prior to the start of principal photography. Applications must include:
– General information about the production
– Contact information
– Preliminary production milestone dates
– A copy of the screenplay (or treatment if appropriate)
– The production budget top sheet and estimated headcount
– Various acknowledgements of program and OFMO criteria and agreements to abide by them
Following the initial submission, productions will be given a schedule to complete additional benchmarks, including providing proof of full funding and certificates of insurance. Meanwhile, the stand-alone post-production incentive, which requires a separate application, only needs to be submitted 14 days before the start of post production in Oklahoma.
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The Oklahoma Film and Music Office estimates the 2021 incentives will help create a total of 10,218 local jobs and contribute $161.7 million to the economy from 33 film and television productions. The forecast does not include the more than 150 productions outside the state's incentive program, including commercial projects, music videos, student films and more.
In 2020, local television and film projects created 3,960 local jobs and contributed more than $32.8 million to the state’s economy, with 34 film and television projects taking advantage of the film enhancement rebate program.
The stepped up incentives for fiscal year 2021 come as the Compete with Canada Film Act, which had an annual cap of $8 million cap per fiscal year, will sunset on July 1, 2027. While the Compete with Canada Film Act's rebate program is no longer accepting new applications, prequalified projects will be able to submit their final claims. The Filmed in Oklahoma Act's sunset date is June 30, 2031.
"The infrastructure supporting the film industry in Oklahoma is growing each day. With three certified sound stages that collectively offer more than 1.3 million square feet of stage facilities and more than 279,000 square feet of production space, Oklahoma's film infrastructure rivals that of any major studio space," Department of Commerce Executive Director Brent Kisling told FOX Business. "Combine that with the nation's most diverse terrain all within in close proximity to our major metros, what Oklahoma has to offer the film industry is second-to-none."
In addition to Oklahoma, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy penned a letter to big production studios like Netflix and Disney in April offering incentives to woo them to move from Georgia to the Garden State. Netflix recently said it was planning to submit a bid for a 289-acre portion of Fort Monmouth, a former Army base in New Jersey, to develop a new "state-of-the-art production facility."