Rural Utah has provided memorable backdrops for favorite movie scenes time and time again, including Captain Jack Sparrow’s comical encounter with supernatural crabs on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Ben Gates’ expedition to the “arctic” to find the lost ship Charlotte in National Treasure was really Utah’s famous Strawberry Reservoir, and we can’t forget the stretch of Forrest’s iconic run through beautiful Monument Valley in Forrest Gump.
A recent bill passed during the 2022 General Session makes Utah’s film industry competitive among other states, ensuring our state will continue to be featured in well-loved films. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Winterton, worked with stakeholders including Kevin Costner, a famous actor who filmed some of his most successful projects in Utah, to create a bill that helped both the film industry and the rural parts of our state.
S.B. 49 State Film Production Incentives Amendments allows the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity to issue additional tax credit incentives for rural film productions. In order for a film to qualify for the credit, 75% of the total production days are required to take place in rural Utah.
As a post-performance incentive, the credit will function similarly to a tax rebate: producers must spend the money in the state of Utah and wait for the Utah Film Commission to audit their receipts. Upon determining that the film qualifies, the commission will then return 20% of expenditures to the producer. The remaining 80% of expenditures will stay in Utah’s rural economies, supporting local industries like transportation, hospitality, catering, land rental and leasing, restaurants and even construction. The incentive will also increase the number of jobs in Utah’s film industry—from film extras to stage setup and lighting crews—as producers will be motivated to hire locally rather than bring staff from out of state.
At the heart of S.B. 49 is the growth and sustainment of rural economies. Incentivizing film production highlights the state’s one-of-a-kind landscapes for audiences everywhere to enjoy, but more importantly, it provides jobs and increased revenue to rural Utah.