Movie making is returning to Mississippi following expansion of incentive program

Impact of expanding film incentives

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -The Mississippi legislature approved for part of the film incentive package that expired in 2017 to be revived this year. And it’s already drawing new movies to the state.

Senate Bill 2603 extends a program that allows Mississippi to offer rebates to motion picture production companies that work in the state. Unlike some legislation, it was effective upon passage when the Governor signed it in April. It allows for 25 percent tax rebates for non-resident cast and crew on films.

Breaking News in Yuba County will tell the story of a housewife whose husband has a heart attack when she walks in on him with another woman. She buries him and pretends he’s been kidnapped.

“A comedy of errors ensues after that," explains director Tate Taylor.

This film features big names like Oscar-winner Allison Janney, Mila Kunis, Awkwafina, Ellen Barkin, Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes and others.

Allison Janney on set of Breaking News in Yuba County.
Allison Janney on set of Breaking News in Yuba County.

They’ve been filming in Natchez since June 3. Before the incentives were brought back to life, they were scheduled to shoot in Baton Rouge. It’s being directed by Mississippi-native Tate Taylor who’s planning to keep making films here.

“An incentive in a state is a chicken in an egg situation," explained Taylor. “At some point, crew has to keep coming and staying in hotels. But they can’t start planting their roots, like say in Natchez, if movies aren’t going to keep being filmed here.”

Director Tate Taylor on set in Natchez Mississippi.
Director Tate Taylor on set in Natchez Mississippi.

“We were able to come in even under the budget," said Executive Producer Robin Fisichella. “Mississippi offers a lot as far as filmmakers and locations and ease of shooting.”

And that’s part of the goal for Taylor and producer John Norris. They have plans for a sound stage to be built in Natchez and want to continue creating a base of resources that will further drive down costs and attract future projects.

“We probably do $25-$35 million worth of business in Mississippi a year now," said Norris. “We’re hoping to grow that to 100 million within two to three years. And beyond that, we’ll see.”

Part of the incentives includes a commitment to hiring at least 20% locals and training them, a welcome opportunity for those who thought they’d have to move off to live their dream.

“My whole life I thought I wouldn’t be able to come back here," noted set production assistant Mark Iles. "But now it’s a realistic possibility that people that leave here and go to school can come back here and have a job to do.”

“Stay where I live and not worry about going somewhere else or worry about oh I need to move," said set production assistant Kristen Russell. "I can just stay where I am and know that I can work.”

“Our crew and actors just keep falling in love with it,” said Taylor of shooting films in Mississippi.

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