Ted Simons: If you've seen the lifetime mini series "Maneater," or a Red Bull or Go Daddy commercial, there's a chance you might recognize the backdrop. That's because those were some of the productions shot here in Phoenix last year. The film industry had a $38 million impact on the city in 2009. Here to talk about the business side of making films in the valley is Phoenix film commissioner Phil Bradstock. Good to have you on the show. Thanks for joining us.
Phil Bradstock: Thank for having me.
Ted Simons: Was it expected? Was it a goal -- higher, lower?
Phil Bradstock: This is the first year we did a calendar year review. Formally we do it in our fiscal year, which is in July. We don't have any metrics to compare to. I was expecting it $32 million. So I was surprised when it came out to be $38 million.
Ted Simons: This is just in Phoenix, correct?
Phil Bradstock: Correct Greater Phoenix, The city of Phoenix is the only city that has a established film office. So our boundaries in a way are buckeye to apache junction to cave creek out to the city of Maricopa.
Ted Simons: The $38 million, how does that compare to the rest of the state?
Phil Bradstock: Pretty much the majority of film production happens in the Phoenix area. Very, very large percentage. I can't speak for Tucson. But they're not up where we are right now.
Ted Simons: Why do you think that is?
Phil Bradstock: I think this is Phoenix and Phoenix markets itself. A lot of projects are looking to film in Los Angeles but it's expensive so prefer to go outside of Los Angeles and because of our architecture in the downtown area it's easy to replicate the locations. The Encanto neighborhood has a Santa Monica type feel to it.
Ted Simons: Full-time jobs, high paying?
Phil Bradstock: Anywhere from the mid 20 to the mid 30-dollar an hour range. It is a full-time industry for them but similar to construction, once you build a house, you need another house to build. Once you finish a project, you need to find another project. It's not full time in terms of throughout the year, but maybe actors and do this part time and maybe real estate salespeople on the side.
Ted Simons: How did the tax incentive program -- how big a factor?
Phil Bradstock: When I looked at the data, out of $147 million spent here in the greater Phoenix area, over $80 million came from the motion picture tax incentive program which is a big attraction for the projects to come into Arizona.
Ted Simons: I'm a filmmaker, what is presented to me as far as the tax incentive?
Phil Bradstock: Right now, in 2009, of course, you spend between $250,000 and $1 million in Arizona on businesses and crews and wages, you can get it back at 20%. At $1 million, 30%, in the form of a transferable tax credit and $9 million per production is the cap.
Ted Simons: I've heard criticism that the incentives were supposed to bring in X but we're not seeing X yet.
Phil Bradstock: There's 40 states in the U.S. that have some form of incentive program so it's definitely a competition among the states. With our program, it took off and did fabulous. We had a few hiccups in 2007. 2008 we started to gain steam.
Ted Simons: What happened to the hiccups?
Phil Bradstock: We operate what's a cap program. There's only so much available each year. We were finding that a lot of local filmmakers were applying are to the program. And securing $5 million in tax credits and committed to projects that had no funding and as a result of that, major projects from Sony, for example, were never able to make it in the program as a result.
Ted Simons: That reminds me of a criticism. Local filmmakers or those who would film here anyway, don't need this particular incentive.
Phil Bradstock: Because of the $250,000 minimum, they don't qualify for the program. This is more for attracting outside into Phoenix. Those programs aren't taking advantage of the program because they don't meet that $250,000 threshold.
Ted Simons: Surrounding states, how are they competing.
Phil Bradstock: New Mexico is hands down the champion. They and Louisiana. But our primary competition is New Mexico. They have the locations and incentive program that offers a rebate of the tax credit. So instead of us offering those tax credits sold on the open market, the state of New Mexico cuts them a check.
Ted Simons: What's the latest project here on the valley?
Phil Bradstock: They haven't told me what it is. It's a very big actor, well known and starting very soon.
Ted Simons: Does it deal with baseball?
Phil Bradstock: No, it does not. Loosely, there's a few scenes that have to do with baseball.
Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.
Phil Bradstock: you're welcome.