Woodrow Wilcox: Simple steps can boost film and TV production in Indiana

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I have a few suggestions for increasing film, television, and other media production in Indiana. I have some experience in this industry that gives me ideas that others may not have.

In the early 1980s, I produced a talk show on a television station in Los Angeles. In the mid to late 1980s, I was an actor in a dozen movies and a dozen TV shows shot in Las Vegas. I’ve worked with Jerry Lewis, Stacey Keach, Martin Sheen, Kirstie Alley and others. In Florida, I worked with Willard Scott on a TV show and was a regular background cast member on the show “Superboy.” My last role on a major TV show was as an evil alien scientist in an episode of “Power Rangers.”

I’m not saying this to brag but to lend credibility to my comments.

Indiana is one of the few states that does not offer any tax incentives for media production. I believe Indiana would benefit from a few simple incentives.

Indiana has talented people for film, television, radio and new media productions. But it does not give financial reasons to production companies to resort to the State. Indiana’s geography is not as dramatic or attractive as the mountains, deserts, beaches, swamps, cities, and towns of some other states. Without financial incentives, Indiana stands little chance of attracting productions, especially major productions.

It’s more realistic to start with small incentives and changes in laws to help Indiana growers and businesses.

Here are some changes I suggest.

Provide production companies with an exemption from hotel taxes and Indiana sales taxes for their productions. This small exemption would greatly help small producers. Accommodation and food for cast and crew members can be very expensive. Giving that break would help encourage show production in Indiana.

Exempt Indiana income taxes for cast or crew from outside Indiana. Virginia exempts the first $25,000 of income earned in Virginia by nonresidents. Indiana punishes out-of-state people by imposing a non-resident tax filing requirement on foreigners who visit Indiana to help make a production. This is absurd and actually hurts Indiana’s efforts to attract productions.

Indiana is already strong in the insurance industry. Help production companies purchase production insurance in Indiana, even if they are not shooting all parts of a production in Indiana.•

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Wilcox lives in Dyer and is a former actor and producer.


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