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Maine looks at incentives for film industry

The Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability released its report on the state's current film incentives.

AUGUSTA, Maine — In the past decade, there have been 54 media productions created here in Maine that have used one of Maine's current visual media incentives. According to the OPEGA report, that number is low and shows the current incentives are not attracting these types of media productions to Maine.

"We did find that Maine's incentives tend to be less generous than others," Jennifer Henderson, senior analyst at OPEGA said to the Government Oversight Committee.

In Maine, visual media wage reimbursements are 10 percent for people who are not Maine residents and 12 percent for Maine residents. But other states have much higher reimbursement rates.

"The majority fell in the 20 to 35 percent range," Henderson added.

It's not just the wage reimbursement where Maine is behind but also the tax credits.

Maine offers a 5 percent production credit, but down the road in Massachusetts, filmmakers can get a 25 percent tax break on production and payroll.

Productions in Massachusetts have to spend $50,000 to get these credits, but in Maine, these companies need to spend $75,000.

"We found that there are issues in the administration of Maine's visual media incentives that should be addressed moving forward," Kari Hojara, OPEGA analyst said.

Filmmaking groups in Maine declined to comment on the report as the conversation continues. There will be a public hearing on this report in the coming weeks.

The Department of Economic and Community Development, which runs Maine Film Office, wrote a letter to the committee about the visual media incentives and how it affects tourism.

"A recent survey of visitors to Maine asked if film was a reason for their visit," the letter said in part. "Of the 300 responses; 5% said a TV or film inspired their trip to Maine; less than 1% said visiting a location related to a TV show or film was the main reason for their visit to Maine; and 4% said visiting a location of a TV show or film was one of the activities they engaged in while in Maine."

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