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Snow Me the Money: Rebate Program Brings Hollywood To Minnesota

Snowbate likely means $1.5 million rebate for “Wilson” producers.

Snow Me the Money: Rebate Program Brings Hollywood To Minnesota
The filmmakers behind the movie “Wilson” could get a hefty rebate check from Minnesota for filming in the state.
 
In fact, Minnesota’s “Snowbate” rebate program for filmmakers was instrumental in landing the production by Fox Searchlight Pictures. It’s currently being shot in the metro area and stars Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern.
 
Under the program, filmmakers are eligible for rebates of up to 25 percent of money spent in Minnesota. The rebate is not issued until after an independent financial review of the production budget of actual dollars spent locally is completed.
 
“It was a very important tool,” said Lucinda Winter, executive of Minnesota Film and TV, which administers the film rebate program. “They will be spending north of $6 million in our state, mostly in the metro area. A large share of that is labor.”
 
Winter is estimating that the producers of “Wilson” will ultimately receive a rebate of approximately $1.5 million through the Snowbate program.
 
 “Wilson” is the largest movie to be filmed locally since the Coen Brothers shot “A Serious Man” here in 2008. (The film was released in 2009.) Filmmaker brothers Joel and Ethan Coen grew up in St. Louis Park. The shoot, expected to wrap up at the end of July, is largely taking place on the eastern side of the Twin Cities.
 
“They’re shooting a lot of the movie in St. Paul and St. Paul suburbs. It’s mostly a St. Paul movie,” said Winter. “I think they really found a lot of what they were looking for in St. Paul.”
 
The film is based on a graphic novel by cartoonist Daniel Clowes, who also wrote the screenplay. According to press release about the production: “Harrelson stars as Wilson, a lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged misanthrope.”
 
Last year Twin Cities Business took an in-depth look at the uptick in film production business in Minnesota.
 
Meanwhile, there are more potential productions in the pipeline.
 
There were reports last year that HBO was scouting Stillwater as the location for a possible series.
 
“We’re still very much in play for that,” Winter said. “Our office has been in communication with HBO.”
 
Camera crews will also be popping up in Duluth before the end of the year. Netflix is planning to shoot a series that stars comedian Maria Bamford, a Duluth native.
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