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Big boost sought in Utah fund to lure filmmakers

A legislative task force wants to see a bigger, bolder sequel to a fund designed to boost film production in Utah.

In its final meeting Monday, the Tourism Task Force voted unanimously to send a letter to the Economic Development Appropriation Subcommittee asking it to create a separate line item in the Governor's Office of Economic Development budget totaling at least $3 million annually for the Motion Picture Incentive Fund.

The letter also calls for a separate GOED line item for tourism.

After a one-year pilot program, supporters of the film fund last year sought $3 million, but that was trimmed to $1 million during the legislative session. Backers have said several more Utah-based productions could have been funded with more money and that Utah must have such funds to compete with others states dangling incentives to lure production companies.

Rep. Steve Mascaro, R-West Jordan, wanted to be sure the letter's language is clear that the request for $3 million for the film fund does not mean the task force is suggesting that tourism funding be reduced by that amount, "because that was what was happening in the past."

The GOED board, which awards the film incentives, already has tapped out the $1 million for the current fiscal year. To help fund more opportunities during this fiscal year, the task force on Monday also voted to support using Industrial Assistance Fund money as a film fund "bridge" to the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

Up to 20 percent of IAF money may be used on "special economic opportunities."