MN Aims to Attract Filmmakers with $10M Incentive
If you happen to see camera crews, lighting sets, or swarming paparazzi in your neck of the woods, it may be the result of a $10 million incentive rebate that the state has set aside film projects produced in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Film Production Jobs Program, popularly known as “Snowbate,” provides reimbursements to companies that film in the state. Minnesota Film and TV, a nonprofit public-private partnership serving Minnesota’s film office, will oversee the allocation of the $10 million over the next two years, beginning July 1.
Although 1990s films gave the rest of the world a glimpse of Minnesota, with characters roller-blading through The Mall of America in The Mighty Ducks, ice fishing on Lake Rebecca in Grumpy Old Men, and talking with Canadian accents in Fargo, which, despite its name, was mostly filmed throughout Minnesota, the state has since largely failed to draw the attention of Hollywood.
“Snowbate funding at $10 million catapults Minnesota from least competitive among the states offering production incentives to one of 15 states with the best film incentive programs,” Lucinda Winter, Minnesota Film and TV executive director, said in a statement. “This makes it possible for us to compete internationally for film and television production, generating high wage jobs and private spending in Minnesota.”
Minnesota was a pioneer in film incentives when it spawned the Snowbate program in 1997. Grumpy Old Men and Jingle All the Way alone managed to bring in $90 million in revenue to Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune. Snowbate was dismantled by Jesse Ventura in 2002 but then reinstated in 2006. However, the most it had ever previously garnered was $2.6 million in 2008.
Between 2007 and 2011, Minnesota invested $4.6 million into the program, which provided a return of $28 million in direct private spending, more than half of it in wages paid to Minnesotans, according to Minnesota Film and TV.
The latest $10 million boost sets Minnesota apart in the Midwest. According to the Star Tribune, of adjacent states, only Wisconsin has an incentive program, and it totals just $500,000.
“With a competitive film incentive, Minnesota will once again be a destination for filming,” Winter said. “Without a competitive incentive, it’s virtually impossible to attract production here.”
Snowbate was part of the omnibus jobs, economic development, and housing bill signed by Governor Mark Dayton in May. The bill invested $89 million in additional general fund resources to strengthen the state’s economy by creating jobs, increasing work force training opportunities, and improving affordable housing options. For Snowbate, the bill also increased the maximum reimbursement percent of production dollars spent in the state from 15 to 25 percent.