Tax change concerns raised, KY filmmakers celebrated at Flyover Film Festival

Some Kentucky filmmakers concerned about changes in tax incentives

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It’s no secret that Hollywood has found its way to the Bluegrass.

Friday night, the Flyover Film Festival celebrated Kentucky filmmakers, marking its eleventh year running.

“Flyover Film Festival is comprised of films that have Bluegrass connections that are all having their Kentucky premier,” Soozie Eastman, a director of a festival film called 'Overload', said.

Some films were the byproduct of tax incentives put in place years ago, but now some of those rules have been tweaked.

Attendance growth at Flyover tied to industry growth didn't happen overnight and is likely due to state tax incentives, some say.
Attendance growth at Flyover tied to industry growth didn't happen overnight and is likely due to state tax incentives, some say. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Some Kentucky directors said the state boasted the best film tax incentives in the country, but that was before changes made by the state legislature over the last two years.

Despite that, organizer said attendance at the festival is seeing an upward trend.

“A large majority of people that worked on the films are from the region," Stu Pollard, who produced a festival film, said. "That’s going to drive attendance.”

Films are getting finished in Kentucky as a byproduct of the tax incentive, which some fear is in jeopardy.
Films are getting finished in Kentucky as a byproduct of the tax incentive, which some fear is in jeopardy. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Pollard said that attendance growth tied to industry growth didn’t happen overnight and is likely due to film tax incentives.

“2015 is when it started," Pollard said. "What you’re seeing now is a lot of films that are getting finished as a byproduct of that incentive.”

That makes for an exciting line up at the Flyover Film Festival, but directors worry it’s in jeopardy, due to recent legislative changes that create a cap, and make credits non-refundable or transferable- making them less enticing to those not based in the Bluegrass state.

“I got to see a huge uptick in hires and in productions coming to town with our tax incentive," Eastman said. "That has definitely dwindled since there have been some tweaks to the tax incentive.”

Eastman said she hopes lawmakers in Frankfort will tweak the incentives again in 2020.

A handful of filmmakers at the 2019 festival used the Kentucky film tax incentives to create their work.

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