Wisconsin's Film Industry Steals Our Look

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 27, 2006 7:35PM

What would Batman Returns have looked like if it were filmed in Milwaukee? Would High Fidelity still resonate with you if it had been filmed in Madison? Do the Blues Brothers have the same soul if they’re from Oshkosh? We may be about to find out, as Wisconsin hasn't been keeping its eyes on its own paper and just totally copied off of us.

2006_02_wisconsin.jpgScreen Magazine, a periodical we turn to for the lowdown on the Midwest indie film scene, tells us that Wisconsin lawmakers are set to vote on The Film Wisconsin Incentives Legislation (SB 563 for you policy wonks). Sponsored by Sen. Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield), the bill would give a tax credit of up to 25 percent of the salary or wages paid to the film company’s employees. Companies who wish to film a video game, television show or commercial would also receive the same credit. Passage seems like a sure thing, especially with the endorsement of the mighty Sheboygan Press. Click here to see a draft of the bill.

The piece also discusses how this will affect other states in the region. Indiana, which only offers a tax credit on capital investments on feature films, may suffer the worst for it. A similar bill in Michigan is getting worked over by the state’s Senate Finance Committee while Minnesota is looking to improve on its previous 10% tax credit program.

As for Illinois, the same 25% tax credit is a part of Governor Blagove...er, Smith’s proposed 2007 budget, which he announced two weeks ago. But does Chicago need to do more to compete on a soon-to-be-leveled playing field? That’s something Rich Moskal and the rest of the Chicago Film Office will have to ponder this year. Illinois’ tax incentives are a boon, but perhaps we could sweeten the deal. For instance, the Mayor could offer to tear up an airport and rebuild it to a director’s specifications, if necessary. It’s that kind of outside-the-box thinking that could secure us a Grade-A production like Snakes On A Plane.