VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Megan Abundis
The headlines in Hollywood are focused on the writer and actor strikes.
Here in Missouri, headlines cover the area's filmmaking future. "Winter's Bone" and "Up in the Air" were products of the last time the state had film incentives.
The "Show MO Act," recently signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson, is a tool to attract film and television business to the state, offering a $16 million cap.
Some are already seeing the impact of the newly-signed law.
“We’ve been contacted by a lot of production companies, producers [and] location scouts knowing that now they can add us to a list of potential places to film, where they couldn’t before," said Steph Shannon, director of the Kansas City Film Office.
KSHB 41's Megan Abundis is taking the topic 360 to see the impact film incentives will have on Kansas City, hearing from:
- Film in MO president
- Kansas City Film Office director
- Doomsday Entertainment executive producer
- Kansas City filmmakers
- Kansas City Independent Film Coalition actor, president
President of Film in MO
Michelle Davidson was involved in the initiative to bring film incentives back to Missouri.
“All of the film work jobs, economic development for the state, [it] went away,” Davidson said. “We’ve been advocating for 10 years.”
Without the incentives, Davidson said there were missed opportunities.
“We also have Missouri-based companies like Hallmark who have never been able to use Missouri as a location for films because of the lack of incentives,” she said. “They film in Canada or other states that have incentives, so I would love for [a] Missouri-based business to film in Missouri.”
Davidson helped lawmakers pass these incentives, which are set to attract big productions to the state and incentivize local filmmakers.
“The film incentives go from 20-40%,” she said. “There are little bumps in there that incentivize if a show shows Missouri in a positive light, or hiring a certain crew, or filming in a certain type of location — a blighted area or a rural area.”
Plus, bringing back the incentives helps keep more stories set in Missouri from leaving or filming out of state, according to Davidson.
“Why wasn’t 'Ozark' filmed in the [Lake of the] Ozarks? It’s because of a lack of incentive," Davidson said."Why was a show originally called 'Kansas City' changed to 'Tulsa King' [and] filmed in Oklahoma? It was because of lack of incentive."
Kansas City Film Office director
The Kansas City Film Office has high expectations for the newly-passed film incentives.
Sheph Shannon, director for the Kansas City Film Office, believes KC neighborhoods are cinematic and deserve to be on the big screen and in recurring series.
“Immediately, the industry has us on our radar,” Shannon said. “We will be having meetings [and] recruiting projects, and these are exciting projects.”
She said they help run about 200 projects a year, amounting to an economic impact of more than $10 million.
Now, she expects even more.
“This is a growing field; this is an expanding field,” Shannon said. “We want to capture all of those young people and let them know that they can work in the workforce right here at home — they don’t have to leave, they don’t have to go to LA, New York.”
Tourism dollars, local construction crews and the small business ancillary will support the industry, per Shannon.
“Everything from a print shop, to a lumber yard, to all of the craziest things you may not even dream of are part of a project," she said. "Because every story is different, they are going to need different kinds of things from different small companies from around the area."
Shannon said a prime example occurred over the summer with a music video shoot in the West Bottoms.
“A$AP Rocky and his wife Rihanna came and stayed in the Crossroads, and not only do they stay, they go shopping and do things regular people do, so a lot more of that,” she said.
Doomsday Entertainment executive producer
Jason Cole — an executive producer for Doomsday Entertainment, which is based out of Los Angeles — helped produce A$AP Rocky's West Bottoms video.
After working in Kansas City, he shared a review of what it was like filming in the city.
“Logistically, it’s a dream. Creatively, I don’t know a lot of areas that look like that — that’s a special area,” Cole said of the West Bottoms. “I was pleasantly surprised; there was quite a bit of infrastructure and quite a bit of seasoned crew. We were able to fly the minimum amount of people, just a few department heads, and found a majority of the crew locally.”
Cinematographer Adam Biggs said it’s easy to get around in Kansas City, and with plenty of local talent, there are plentiful opportunities to save money.
“When we go scouting on location, one of the big things we look for is something amazing, cool, different architecturally, this has got it all — lots of places to put lights on,” Biggs said.
Kansas City filmmakers
To be considered a true film destination, filmmakers believe local content must be made in the area.
“We always joke it’s a marriage of convenience because it allows [us] to work 24/7 and the gear is in one location, so it was easier to get married,” joked Patrick Poe and Lolo Loren.
Loren and Poe have created dozens of narrative features and short films together.
“A day on a film set is the best day," Poe said. "That’s my favorite day on planet Earth, and I’m hopeful for more of those to happen in Kansas City. It is so hard to get your film made, [and] any sort of resource to make it that one step simpler is so beneficial.”
The couple hopes the incentives guide more eyes to the work already made in KC.
“Anything that brings more attention to the already great film work being done here is such a positive,” they said. “I’m excited because it brings more work here for the amazing local artists that are already creating really cool indie content. This will give them the opportunity to work on big-budget things and possibly learn more skills they don’t know yet.”
KC Independent Filmmakers Coalition actor
Jamie Morrow, Kansas City Independent Film Coalition actor, believes the tax credit creates opportunity, despite some concerns the initiative "is not thinking globally" and may leave local talent feeling left behind.
“Overall, our filmmaking community is excited about these tax credits for the industry, not only for their own projects but to be able to work on Hollywood-level projects in town, too, like 'Winter's Bone' or 'Up in the Air' that were brought into the state [and] really allowed for a lot of opportunities," Morrow said. "There are also some fears that the tax credit is not thinking globally. that our local talent will be left behind.”
President of KC Independent Filmmakers Coalition
“I think people would say Kansas City is hitting its stride right now," said Trevor Martin, president of the KC Independent Filmmakers Coalition. "We are on the public mound, what better time for Kansas City to have these incentives?"
The KC Film Office said residents should keep an eye out for infrastructure, sound stages, permanent places for production, music composure, effects, postproduction, and graphic design.
If you have a great location — like a farmhouse or a café, for example — you can include your business or service in the film office's production guide. The database includes over 700 people and businesses and is referenced when films are seeking vendors.