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Alexander Payne's film pays off for Nebraska

Alexander Payne Nebraska feature filmBeing the location (and providing the title) for Alexander Payne’s newly released feature film paid off for Nebraska, says its department of economic development.

What is the true impact of shooting a feature film somewhere? Well, if we are to believe the Nebraskan department of economic development, it can be very substantial.

Director Alexander Payne (The Descendants), together with his cast and crew, made Norfolk in Nebraska his temporary home in October and November 2012 during the physical production of Payne’s latest black and white film, currently showing in cinemas worldwide. The majority of the film was shot on location in north east of Nebraska, around places such as Plainview, Stanton, Elgin, Tilden, Osmond, Hooper, Lyons and Lincoln.

A local magazine, NorfolkNow, reported that Nebraska (which is the fitting title of the film) involved 204 days on location, and 30 days of filming strictly in Nebraska. Alongside a cast including Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, and Bob Odenkirk, 21 local residents were cast in roles, and an additional 227 were hired as extras. The shoot consisted of 56 crew members plus security personnel who worked on location for 36 days.

Laurie Richards, film officer in Nebraska, says that not only the budget indicates the local spend - many factors are present when ascertaining the economic impact on a region. These may include local purchases, employment, labour income and indirect business taxes. This would mean a considerable bigger income for the state than what you would expect from a film with a budget of ‘just’ $13.5m.

"A typical day of filming on location for this size budget could range anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000," said Richards. "If this is averaged out over the course of 30 days of shooting in Nebraska, approximately $1.5m of new money was infused into the local economy.

"Not only that, but consider how significant the impact on Norfolk and surrounding towns in terms of the number of local residents hired, purchases of food, lodging, hardware, in addition to location fees, truck and car rentals, gas, and other sundry items necessary for physical production."

On top of this there are other economic benefits, such as the fact that this film is a hugely successful branding exercise for the state, as well as its local arts and entertainment industry. The success, Richards said, is “the best free publicity we could ever hope to generate for Nebraska. We may not have Hollywood knocking on our door, but we definitely have piqued the interest of independent filmmakers and companies."

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