Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

August 10, 2012

GUEST OPINION: Iowa Motion Picture Association's View: Time to look to the future.

Iowa Motion Picture Association

Knoxville — On July 27, 2012, the Iowa Supreme Court decided the financial records of film companies who received tax incentives should be released to the public. The IMPA is supportive of the law and accepts the judgment of our state's Supreme Court and, therefore, the action by the Attorney General's office to bring to justice those who were unscrupulous.

However, it is important that unintended consequences of this decision be avoided – and that the many skilled crew members, talent, and businesses who worked tirelessly on these projects not be considered “guilty by association.” It is equally important that the legitimacy and credibility of businesses that used the incentives honestly not be tarnished.  

Many industries in Iowa use tax incentives every day.  It is counterproductive to single out one industry for continued criticism – when that industry is composed of many talented and honest members who have never abused any tax incentives -- and who daily provide excellent film, video, graphics and animation services to corporations, small businesses, colleges, universities, independent filmmakers, and ad agencies in the state of Iowa.  Some of these Iowa-located businesses also provide skills needed around the country, including in Los Angeles – and then spend their earnings here in Iowa. 

Iowa film crews, talent and businesses have worked diligently to create high-quality productions utilizing their specific knowledge, skills and abilities before, during, and after the film incentive program. These crews were also composed of small businesses surviving an economy that had entered recession in 2008. Those businesses that have survived in Iowa since both the recession and the film incentive freeze should be commended for adapting to a harsh and critical business environment, not be punished for the actions of those who abused the incentives. 

As the many elements of Iowa’s film industry try to recover,  Iowa needs to support legitimate and credible businesses that will foster 21st century job creation.  In the next decade, the media industry will develop in many new ways not yet fully recognized. We need to ensure that Iowa plays a role in this growing market. We need to develop, cultivate and keep the pioneers and innovators. Students who graduate from our universities and community colleges are also looking for professional opportunities to stay in Iowa and work in film and video production.   

If we can't attract productions with tax incentives, we will continue to attract them with the exceptional abilities of our crew, talent, film, video, graphic design and animation businesses -- and with the support of Iowans. 

Independent film production is happening all over Iowa. It’s time to look toward the future. We should be outstanding in many new fields, as well as corn fields.