Cash, jobs for Washington-made films on the verge of vanishing

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by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 28, 2012 at 8:42 AM

SEATTLE -- Supporters of Washington's film industry are heading to Olympia Monday, hoping to encourage lawmakers to renew film making incentives that expired last year.

Without the incentives, it's highly unlikely filmmakers will want to make movies in Washington, especially since neighboring Oregon and British Columbia offer incredible incentives already.

"If there's no incentive, there's no reason for people to shoot here," said Rik Deskin, a film, TV and stage actor.  "If there's nothing shooting, then I don't have an opportunity to work, so right now, I'm an unemployed actor."

State lawmakers decided last year to ditch the incentive, which gives a refund of up to 30 percent to movies, television shows and commercials filmed in Washington.  The productions must reach a certain spending threshold and make heavy use of local workers.

While opponents feel there are better ways to spend the $3.5 million that goes to the program each year, supporters of the incentive say the film industry has spent nearly $70 million in Washington since the incentive began nearly five years ago. 

"It's not a Hollywood giveaway," Deskin said.  "It's about hiring local people.  Hollywood helps, but it's the local people that make it happen."

The state Senate recently approved renewing the incentive program by a 40-8 vote, but the measure is currently stuck in a House committee with no plans for a hearing, said Amy Lillard, executive director of Washington Filmworks.

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