Film Tax Credits Featured on “30 Rock”!
Did any of our readers see last week’s “30 Rock” episode? They talked about state film tax credits! As regular readers would expect, I was thrilled, because film tax credits are my favorite topic to discuss on this blog.
You can watch the full episode here:
In the episode, Jenna stars in a horror film that’s shot in Connecticut. It turns out that Connecticut will only give tax credits to films that promote tourism. So, instead of shutting down the film, the producers change it to be very pro-Connecticut. They decorate the killer’s dungeon with Yale pennants and posters that say, “Visit Connecticut.” They also write www.IheartConnecticut.com in blood on the wall, and they dress up one of the victims in a UConn Huskies shirt.
They even change the dialogue:
SLAUGHTERFACE: “No one is going to save you. Because we’re deep inside one of Connecticut’s 30 beautiful state forests. Thirty!”
JENNA: “Oh, please don’t kill me! I still haven’t tried the famous seafood pizza at Sally’s in New Haven.”
It’s hilarious. This shows how filmmakers will change the message of their films in order to get film tax credits from a state. This is something that I have discussed before on the blog.
It’s no secret that government officials sometimes deny tax credits to films that don’t send a positive message about the state. It may be possible that this happens in Missouri, too. Consider Up In the Air, which received $4.1 million in tax credits to shoot in Missouri in 2009. One scene sounds like a commercial for Lambert Airport. At one point, George Clooney’s character says:
Are you kidding — Lambert Field? The Wright brothers flew through there. That domed main terminal is the first of its kind; it’s a precursor of everything from JFK to de Gaulle.
This wasn’t the first time that “30 Rock” highlighted the ludicrousness of film tax credit programs — It was also a plot point in an episode last season, in which Jenna starred in a movie about werewolfs that shot in Iceland. They shot the film there because the Icelandic government gave them tax credits, but they could only shoot during the one minute of darkness each day.
In economist-speak, we would say that Iceland does not have a comparative advantage in werewolf films, relative to other locations. (Similarly, Missouri doesn’t have a comparative advantage in filmmaking. We’re better at making other things!)