By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal
The Mississippi Development Authority’s Division of Tourism announced Wednesday that Gov. Phil Bryant signed legislation aimed at making Mississippi a more marketable location for the motion picture industry.
Neal McCoy, director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Motion Picture Incentive Program will help draw more film production to the state.
“The first thing it does is it opens the door to bigger-budget films because of the cap that was placed on actors’ and actresses’ salaries,” said McCoy.
The salary cap refers to the MDA’s refund available to production companies that film motion pictures with a total budget above $50,000 in the state.
The MDA will refund 25 percent of salaries for actors who live outside of Mississippi and 30 percent of the salaries of those who do live in state.
Brent Christensen, the MDA’s executive director, said in a press release, “These enhancements will help us expand our appeal to the entertainment industry and encourage growth and development throughout our state’s production service community.”
The legislation also offers an incentive to hire veterans.
The MDA will refund 5 percent of the salary of any veteran hired to work by the production companies.
McCoy said the incentives will make it more attractive financially for films considering Mississippi as a venue.
The bill was approved almost unanimously, with only two members from either branch of the state legislature dissenting.
“We have enjoyed great support from our elected officials and our communities from the very first incentive legislation in 2004,” said Mississippi Film Office Director Ward Emling. “They immediately recognized the benefit on so many levels for their communities and for Mississippi as a whole. These changes immediately make us more competitive.”
The incentives are effective immediately.