The Arkansas Legislative Council approved $5m in funding for film production rebates.
Senator Jonathan Dismang (R–Beebe) made the presentation for the funding which covers through the end of this fiscal year, June 30, 2024. It will provide stop-gap funding until the next legislative session, when he hopes the legislature and administration will work together to establish a sustainable funding source for film incentives in Arkansas.
“Filmmaking is a fast growing part of our economy in Arkansas and it’s something we need to support so we can remain competitive with our neighbors like Oklahoma,” said Dismang in a statement. “These jobs are bringing in tax revenue that exceeds their investment cost to the state. Myself and my colleagues are doing what we can in the legislature to raise this issue and continue support of the industry. We appreciate Governor Sanders’ past support and the advocacy of organizations like the Arkansas Cinema Society and Fort Smith International Film Festival.”
In October, Arkansas Economic Development Institute (AEDI) report released in October “An Economic Analysis of the Arkansas Film Production Industry: Impacts and Incentives,” which showed that for every $1 million spent on the film rebate, $4 million was returned to the state’s economy.
The AEDI study also revealed “employment in Motion Picture and Video Production generally trended downward from 2010 to 2020, rebounding in 2022 to total 260 employees.” During the same period, Oklahoma film jobs rose from 400 to over 6,000 hires.
Dr. Brandon Goldsmith, Executive Director of the Fort Smith International Film Festival and ACS’ newly named Director of Advocacy, said, “These numbers show that rebates work when properly paired with workforce development programs and a proactive film commission.
"We need the legislature to add career readiness requirements to the incentives, because focusing on creating jobs is how we create a sustainable film industry. You have to understand movie hires are small business hires, your hair and makeup people own salons and the caterers have restaurants.”
The Arkansas Digital Motion Picture Incentive is provided as either a tax credit or a rebate. The two Incentives mirror each other in percentages: 25% base incentive for goods, services, and NR labor. An additional 10% incentive is available for payroll of below-the-line employees who are: Full-time certified residents of Arkansas; Veterans; and expenditures paid to a veteran-owned small business for qualified production costs.
Productions filmed in Arkansas include HBO's True Detective season 3 and 2023's What Happens Later (pictured) starring Meg Ryan and David Duchovny for Prowess Pictures.