Lawmakers hold the future of film-makers in Okla. in their hands

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OKLAHOMA -  In the upcoming legislative session lawmakers will determine whether or not tax incentives for film-makers will remain in place in Oklahoma.

The tax rebate allows filmmakers from all over the world who film in Oklahoma to receive a 35 percent rebate on all purchases made during the filming.

The tax incentives have been in place for nearly ten years and will end in July.

Local casting director Chris Freihofer has casted many feature films in Oklahoma and says that the tax incentive is what is keeping filmmaking in Oklahoma alive.

"My casting office has been averaging 5 feature films per year with this incentive,
without the incentive were doing one every year or two," according to Freihofer.

Freihofer says that it isn't just the film community that benefits from local and out-of-state filmmakers using the rebate program, it also helps promote local business.

Freihofer says many restaurants, hotels, local shops and many others business's on location receive money from the film community throughout the production.

One man who believes that these tax incentives are too high, taking too much money from tax payers is Academy Award winning producer Gray Frederickson, "I personally don’t want part of my money paying for people to come in here, I like them to come in here, I like getting the tax rebate, but I think it should be where it doesn’t cost the tax payers money then the rebate works for me."

Frederickson believes that Oklahoma has enough to offer to attract filmmakers without offering a 35 percent rebate.

Jill Simpson the Director of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office disagrees with Frederickson by saying "if we were to be revenue neutral and zero out, we would have to be these days somewhere down 10-12 percent which is not competitive, which means you’re not getting any projects."

With the legislative session on the horizon Simpson is concerned the tax rebate program may not receive an extension.

On the other hand, she believes that if extended, the rebate plan offers huge gains for Oklahomans in the future...

"if we are able to continue the program in the future I firmly believe that we
could be doing the business that Georgia  and Louisiana and New Mexico are doing which are hundreds of millions of dollars," says Simpson.

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