Lawmakers look to bring back AZ film industry - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers look to bring back AZ film industry


Arizona used to be a big-time player in the entertainment industry, with an assortment of TV shows, movies and commercials shot across the state each year.

Days of Thunder, Forrest Gump, Raising Arizona, and Casablanca are among the 1,600 movies that have had scenes shot on location in Arizona. 

But things changed a few years ago, when Arizona lawmakers closed the state's film office.

"We've always had TV series going on or movies of the week," said Arizona stuntman Rodd Wolff. "We haven't had hardly anything since the demise of the film tax incentive."

On Thursday, members of Arizona's dwindling film industry were out in full force at the state capitol.

There were actors, directors and production crews holding a rally in front of the capitol.

They were there to support a new proposal, HB1098, that would bring back the state's film office, which was closed during the recession in 2009.

A year later, the state's film tax incentive expired, prompting Hollywood to start going to other states to shoot their movies.

State Sen. Carlyle Begay(D), of Apache Junction, is sponsoring HB1098. 

"The governor in her state of the state address Monday mentioned that Arizona is open for business," said Carlyle. "In this industry, it really hasn't been open for business."

Randy Murray owns a local production company and is hoping Arizona lawmakers will see the benefits of getting Arizona's film industry going again.

Murray said that New Mexico's film industry is booming, with the production of the hit series Breaking Bad leading the way, and there's no reason Arizona can't be profiting as well.

In the first two quarters of fiscal year 2014, New Mexico's film industry has generated more than $55 million, according to the NM film office.

"This is such a smart investment because it brings that industry here, brings high paying jobs," said Murray. "On top of that, the product they make, they put on screens all over the world and that draws people to our hotels and restaurants and great tourist sites."

Begay said a new state film office will cost around $600,000 a year to staff and operate.

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