LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (WDRB) – The film industry is bringing lights, cameras and plenty of action to Kentucky, all thanks to multi-million dollar tax incentives.
Since January, films have received film incentives to shoot in counties throughout Kentucky. Some of them have chosen to film at La Grange.
Local residents and businesses say the impact of these productions is being felt well beyond the silver screen.
“Having this historic city, which is almost 200 years old, be the setting for these films is so exciting for us,” said Teresa Bowling, executive director of the La Grange Main Street Program. “We don’t always see the impact of incentives immediately, but we do see the long-term impact. They have a huge impact on our economy. They increase business for our restaurants, our hotels and our retail stores.”
In recent years, La Grange has learned that the film industry is like a small town: words travel fast.
“These people know other people, and before you know it, you have a reputation for being a place that the film industry wants to come to,” Bowling said.
“We have people who are like, ‘We’ve seen you on HGTV or Hallmark … and we want to come to town and take a picture in front of this store or in front of this mural,'” Bowling added. “A lot of the people that come into town I ask, ‘What brought you to LaGrange,’ and 9 times out of 10 it’s a movie or a movie they saw us in. They’re people from all over the country and sometimes even from around the world because they’ve seen us on the big screen.”
Kentucky’s Statewide Entertainment Incentive Program allows for $75 million in tax credits to be awarded for projects in a single year.
$40.6 million was approved this year, leaving $34.4 million for future projects.
Across the Commonwealth, 50 different counties were featured, with Jefferson County being the most filmed with 30 projects. Oldham County is second with 12 projects, and Fayette County rounds out the top three with 10 projects.
Of the approved projects, “Wildcat,” produced by Flannery Film LLC, received the most potential tax credits at $2,890,136.
A second season of Haunted Discoveries, Red Right Hand, The Lockdown, and Millennial Chef were also approved for over $2 million each in tax credits.
“Everyone thought, ‘Why should Hollywood have all the benefits of the movie industry when we’re all investing in the movies? We’re all paying the box office,'” Bowling said. “I think expanding to other states and other cities is a great opportunity for all of us to be a part of this enormous industry that has a lot of money involved.”
One of the first calls many production teams make when they want to shoot in Kentucky is Adam Snyder, a location scout. Speaking about the film industry in September, Snyder said productions shot in Kentucky in the past used to have something to do with the state. But now films with all sorts of themes want to be shot in the Commonwealth all year round.
This summer, Zoneton Fire was asked to be an actor in a movie set in downtown Louisville. The scene was made to look like it was filmed in Los Angeles.
Bowling said her community saw similar things at La Grange as well.
“This past week when the film industry was here they wanted us to look like spring in the morning and then they wanted us to look like Christmas and winter in the afternoon so our stores literally changed their storefronts to accommodate this film, ” She said.
Not every project shot in the Commonwealth is a film. According to the state, the different project types include feature films, television programs and documentaries.
“Jagged Little Pill National Tour” also made the list of potential $364,807 tax credits for Jefferson County’s inclusion of the nationwide touring Broadway show.
“We never know when they’ll come to town, so just looking good and preserving our buildings for future generations and future movies is also a motivation for our businesses,” Bowling said.
Though you won’t encounter movie stars in La Grange, you can find icons like Shirley Temple in a mural honoring the film industry near Poplar Alley.
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