It took many flops, but the eighth installment of a proposal from Colorado lawmakers to boost film incentives finally became a blockbuster.
Republican Rep. Tom Massey, a "film buff forever," directed many of the past attempts and said this year's take finally became law Friday because of the support of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.
"Let's just say it took us eight years to figure it out, with the right players, the right proponents. We finally got there," Massey said.
Hickenlooper signed the measure outside a television production company surrounded by lawmakers, film students, and actors. Republican Rep. Larry Liston quipped before the signing, "Promise us bit roles in all the new movies."
The new law will increase the tax incentive the state gives production companies from 10 percent to 20 percent. The refund is for filmmakers to help offset costs for in-state expenditures. Colorado's new incentives are now comparable to other states, but others, including Kansas and Oklahoma have, higher incentives.
The measure also seeks to make it easier for film companies to get loans. Supporters say it will boost tourism and local economies.
Seven previous attempts to increase film incentives failed, including one last year that sought to request voluntary donations at theater box offices to increase the state's incentive fund.
Hundreds of movies have been filmed in Colorado but the number has dwindled in the last 15 years because other states offer better incentives. More than 350 movies were shot, at least partially, in Colorado from 1897 to 1997, according to the Colorado Film Commission. In the 10 years since, 20 movies were filmed in Colorado.
Some of the movies that were at least partially filmed here include "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." The original "True Grit" that earned John Wayne an Oscar for best actor was shot in locations around Colorado, including Ouray and Ridgeway. But when "True Grit" was remade last year, it was shot in New Mexico, where filmmakers can get a state sales tax exemption on costs for set construction, wardrobe and equipment rentals. New Mexico also offers a 25 percent refundable income tax credit on film production and postproduction, costs,
Leah Lockhart, 26, a Denver actress, has high hopes now that new incentives are in place.
"As an actor, trying to make it in Colorado, what this will do is give us all amazing opportunities to get cast here," she said.