The filming of Woody Allen’s latest movie in Rhode Island, bringing actors Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone in the starring roles, has brought both a summer movie buzz and an entourage of cast and crew who will be spending dollars in the Ocean State.
“I’m waiting for the final list, but usually a major motion picture has 200-300 full-time crew members,” said Steven Feinberg, executive director of the R.I. Film and Television Office. “In addition to the cost of the production, they’re spending money on other vendors and at lots of small businesses in the locations where they’re filming.”
The economic boost from movie production in the state has been one avenue of promise in a still-struggling economy, despite the uneven and unpredictable nature of the film industry, according to Edward Mazze, distinguished professor of business administration at the University of Rhode Island. Mazze onducted a comprehensive study of the state’s Motion Picture Production Tax Credit.
The study examined the economic impact of the tax credit based on productions in the state from 2005 through 2009 and found that every dollar invested in the tax credit returned $8 in economic activity. Although that study is four years old, Mazze said he’s convinced it still holds true that the 25 percent tax credit ends up being a financial multiplier for the state’s economy.
“Woody Allen wouldn’t be here without the tax credit,” said Mazze. “The actual tax credit is a marketable instrument. I think people who have been opposed to the tax credit may want to see a return on the money the next day. Those are people who will give you a dollar on Monday and want to get $1.20 back on Tuesday. They don’t understand that the tax credit supports the development and maintenance of an industry.”
Mazze points out that many schools in the state, including Rhode Island School of Design, Rhode Island College and New England Institute of Technology, have programs that nurture acting and production talent.
“I think the tax credit is an excellent thing for the economy and it takes advantage of the assets the state already has,” said Mazze. “There are a lot of creative people in Rhode Island and the tax credit allows these individuals to benefit in terms of having jobs, because it brings productions to the state.”
The way the Rhode Island Motion Picture Production Tax Credit works is the R.I. Film and Television Office determines which expenses qualify, principal filming is done in the state and a minimum of $100,000 is spent on the production, said Michael Canole, chief of examination for the R.I. Division of Taxation.