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Ky. House Boosts Incentives For Filmmakers

The Kentucky House wants to see more of the Bluegrass on the big screen. Thursday, lawmakers in the chamber upped incentives offered to studios and filmmakers that agree to shoot in Kentucky.

Mike Mangeot, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Tourism and Travel, describes the state’s 20 percent refundable tax credit for filmmakers passed in 2009 as outdated. For evidence, he points to the FX original series Justified, which is set in Lexington and the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.

"Our office has worked with them, as have the local communities, as far as sending product to really give it the flavor literally Kentucky," he says. "They will send a crew in periodically to exterior shots, but the fact is it films primarily in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania offers 30 percent. It's a business decision."

The bill now on its way to the House raises the incentive to 30 percent and lowers the threshold for investment.

"Currently for a feature film it's $500,000 and what we found is that eliminates a lot of small independent productions. There are more of those out there than the studio pictures," Mangeot argues.

As part of an effort to move productions outside the state’s urban centers, an extra five percent incentive would also be offered to filmmakers who locate in counties with traditionally high unemployment.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.