Film Industry Advocates Asking State Officials to Increase Oklahoma Tax Incentive Again Next Year

Jul 19, 2019

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State tax incentives for movies and TV shows shot in Oklahoma got a boost on July 1 with a new law going into effect, but industry advocates hope more can be done next year.

The annual cap doubled, going from $4 million to $8 million. VisitTulsa President Ray Hoyt said that’s good for indie projects, but big-budget productions could claim the whole amount.

"When you talk about films like 'Killers Of The Flower Moon,' that’s over a $100 million film. They can go to other states and get $30 million or $40 million in incentives, whereas ours is capped at $8 million," Hoyt said. "It’s the opportunity that if you get it, all that money’s going to be spent here, but if you don’t have the right incentives, zero is zero."

The state's film incentive offers a 35% rebate on qualifying expenditures in the state. A 2% bonus is tacked on if a production spends at least $20,000 on music by an Oklahoman recorded in the state or on music production services in the state.

The state quick action closing fund can also be tapped now to subsidize certain big-budget productions, or lawmakers can appropriate additional funds for film incentives during a regular or special session.

Hoyt said the goal should be a steady stream of productions so Oklahoma develops its own thriving labor pool, ensuring more projects in the future.

"It’s chicken or the egg. We’ve got to have films, and we’ve got to incentivize them to be here so that then people in the industry can go, 'Well, I can go to Tulsa and find work, I can work year round, I can make a living at it,'" Hoyt said.

The state has used incentives in the past to build other industries.

"It’s a lucrative business, and it’s high-paid jobs. And we really have to foster that industry, no different than manufacturing," Hoyt said.