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Colorado spotlights filming incentive challenges

The Hateful EightThe commissioner of the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media has highlighted the challenges of appealing to movies and TV shoots with a limited film fund.

Producers shooting in Colorado can get a 20% filming incentive but there is an annual fund of just $3m, meaning the mid-western state struggles to attract big-budget productions.

New Mexico borders Colorado to the south and backs its filming incentive programme with $50m annually, making the state a key south-west hub.

Colorado’s biggest recent success was hosting scenes for Quentin Tarantino’s high-profile western feature The Hateful Eight (pictured). 

However, just in the last few months the state has lost director Scott Cooper’s western movie Hostiles to New Mexico and Steven Soderbergh’s new HBO film Mosaic to Utah, Colorado’s film commissioner Donald Zuckerman revealed in an interview with Denver media outlet Westword. 

Hostiles and Mosaic both considered filming on location in Colorado before they realised the available incentive support was limited.

“[Cooper] told me he expected his road budget to be $35m,” Zuckerman told Westword. “So even to have a local spend of $25m in New Mexico, he'd get 25% of that - so maybe he'd get $6m to $7m to make the movie in New Mexico.”

Tarantino on location

Colorado could offer all the locations Cooper needed for Hostiles, but the finances proved decisive in steering the film to New Mexico. Zuckerman faced a similar situation with Soderbergh’s project – Colorado could not offer enough financial support.

Zuckerman added that Colorado continues to build its crew base and there is now good air connectivity with Los Angeles and New York – a larger film fund could help bolster this growth. He also describes the importance of the “psychology” of Colorado as a place, in that the state is already a popular US holiday destination and offers plenty to do between shoot days.

Most US states do offer filming incentive support of some kind. However, but only a small number – California, Georgia, Louisiana and New York among them – offer large enough film funds, along with skilled crew and studio infrastructure, to attract high-profile Hollywood shoots.

For more on filming in Colorado see our production guide.

Images: The Weinstein Company