Film incentives change may make Ala. more competitive

MONTGOMERY, AL. — With eight films completed since the Alabama Legislature approved production incentives two years ago, Sen. Gerald Dial is recommending changes to attract more television and film productions to the state.

The current law requires that a television series spend a minimum of $500,000 per episode to qualify for financial incentives. The amendment (SB 255) will combine episodes shot within a period of 12 consecutive months to be considered as one project and will make Alabama more competitive with incentives offered by other states.

"The Alabama Film Office has done a fine job and continues to build a reputation in the film industry. We hope the passage of this amendment will help expand our existing work force." said Dial.

In 2010, the Film Office handled 107 potential projects which resulted in six movies, 15 television episodes and 26 commercials being filmed in the state. Staff members took producers on more than 30 scouting locations during the year.

The independent feature films include "October Baby,"  "After,"  "Awakened," "USS Sea Viper,"  "The Saints of Mt. Christopher,"  "The Man in the Maze," and "Company M: A Mob of Soldiers." Portions of the hit movie "Due Date" starring Robert Downey Jr. were filmed in Jefferson, Tuscaloosa and Clay counties. The DVD version of "Due Date" has ranked among the top 10 in rentals in recent weeks.

The two feature films "October Baby" and "After", which were shot in Birmingham and Bessemer respectively, were approved for the tax incentives and qualify for a total rebate of $350,000. The incentives offer a 25% rebate on production expenditures and out-of-state labor, and a 35% rebate on in-state labor with a $500,000 minimum spend, not to exceed $10 million. An exemption of sales tax and lodging tax on $150,000 minimum spending is also included.

"We are currently in discussions with producers for a television series and two reality series," said Kathy Faulk, Manager of the Alabama Film Office. "Episodes for the Discovery Channel, Lifetime and the National Geographic Channel are currently in production statewide, along with two documentary programs and independent films in Mobile, Tuskegee and Birmingham. The reality show "Bama Belles" based on three Dothan housewives shot the pilot for a series in Houston and Barbour counties." Faulk said.

Rep. Richard Lindsey sponsored the bill in 2009 and with the help of Senators Del Marsh and Roger Bedford guided it through both houses of the legislature without a dissenting vote. Dial said training programs created by Alabama's Workforce Development Training Agency (AIDT) at several community colleges are increasing the number of certified technicians and other skilled craftsmen in the state. The growing number of potential crew members will increase Alabama's attractiveness to production companies, he said.

Production support services and crew who are interested, can register on the AFO website at "Empact Alabama" training seminars(EntertainmentProductionand CrewTraining) are currently being offered by AIDT. For more information and a schedule of dates and locations, visit

The Alabama Entertainment Industry Incentives Act rules and regulations and application for incentives are available on the home page of the AFO website or by calling the Alabama Film Office at 334-242-4195.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Alabama Bureau of Tourism