New law boosts Hawaii's film industry - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

New law boosts Hawaii's film industry

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Dean Des Jarlais Dean Des Jarlais
Donne Dawson Donne Dawson

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state's film industry is expecting a big boost in business thanks to a new law. With an enhanced tax credit starting next month, companies like Hawaii Media Inc. predict more productions will be shooting in the islands.

"There are shows from NBC Universal, something in the wind for ABC, Cameron Crowe has a project. Jurassic Park probably will come back," said Dean Des Jarlais, a partner in Hawaii Media Inc.

The new law increases the film tax credit from 15% to 20% for counties like Honolulu with larger populations. For smaller counties on the neighbor islands, the credit is rising from 20% to 25%. Productions will also be able to claim a credit of up to $15 million.

"The business lately goes where the money is, where the tax credits are, and that's where in terms of what's happening here locally, we're very excited," said Des Jarlais.

Hawaii is facing stiff competition from other locations offering incentives.

"We need to really step things up again. If we want to be in this industry, if we want to be in this game, this is the cost to do business," said state film commissioner Donne Dawson.

Critics question the effectiveness of the tax credit, but Dawson said the state gains a tremendous amount of exposure and economic activity. The industry generated roughly $250 million in direct spending in the islands in 2012, according to the Hawaii Film Office. That translates into an estimated economic impact of $398 million dollars, with nearly $25 million in tax credits.

"I'm all about the incremental growth and the managed growth that is not going to blow the door wide open, but is going to demonstrate that we can do this and do this responsibly," said Dawson.

Dawson said the industry created 2,500 full-time equivalent jobs last year. The new law extends the tax credit through January 1, 2019.

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