“We're basically bringing that onshore with this incentive program, is bringing that kind of activity here as opposed to other jurisdictions benefiting from pretending to be Alaska,” Ayers said.
The state legislature approved the tax incentive program in 2008. Sen. Johnny Ellis, D- Anchorage, sponsored the bill.
This coming session, Ellis says he plans to introduce legislation that would extend the program for another 10 years.
“With the number of productions, TV and film, and the number of people hired, this is quite successful and we want to keep it going,” Ellis said.
Quite a few productions have already taken advantage of the program.
According to the Alaska Film Office, the TV show "Ice Road Truckers" spent $1.1 million in Alaska, but the state awarded them $393,000 in tax credits.
Season 1 of the show “Alaska State Troopers” received more than $30,000, and Season 6 of “Deadliest Catch” pulled in $584,000 from the state.
“I think the Alaska Film Incentive Program is a great program, but I still think there are some holes in the program that need to be addressed and need to be locked down,” said Russ Weston of Weston Productions.
He’s worked in television production in Alaska for more than 40 years and says the incentive program should require outside companies to hire locally.
“I still think there needs to be a specific amount of crew that's brought in locally and working on the production in order for the company to qualify for it,” Weston said.
There's no rule that requires companies applying for the tax credit to hire Alaskans, but if they do, they get a better deal.
Ellis says since the film industry in Alaska is slowly growing, it's understandable that companies must bring in outside help, but he hopes that will eventually change.
“We're hoping in the future with job training programs and more productions coming here that more Alaskans will be trained and get those jobs in the future,” Ellis said.
About 30 productions have pre-qualified for the tax credit. One that has not is “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” on TLC.
Contact Lori Tipton at firstname.lastname@example.org