Iowa Film Office under criminal investigation - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa Film Office under criminal investigation

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Iowa's film tax credit started in 2007 and was meant to act as a lure for films to shoot in the state and hire local companies, but an audit released Monday found that most of the tax incentives ended up supporting out-of-state businesses.

We spoke with one local lawmaker who says this doesn't bode well for Iowa's film industry.

Representative Renee Schulte (R-Cedar Rapids) says the lack of oversight in the Iowa Film Office needs to be corrected, and calls the report "disappointing."

"It sounds like a lot of folks were hired from out of the area, a lot of products purchased from out of the area, and then we just paid for them with Iowa dollars, and I'm not sure that's the best use of our funding," said Schulte.

One film producer says the state's moviemaking industry may be at a standstill while the tax incentive program is on hold.

"Since then, I think there's been 22 projects that have shot here. So, I think that's a clear indicator that producers will follow the money," said Steve Schott, who produced "The Final Season," which was shot in eastern Iowa. He gave examples of how that film production boosted the local economy.

"We booked over 3,000 hotel rooms, we bought all of our food, gasoline, all of our props, set dressings, supplies, everything in Iowa," Schott explained.

In addition to providing jobs for iIwans both in front of and behind the camera, the production left some shooting locations in better condition than before it began. In particular, the Norway baseball diamond was completely renovated.

But films in now in pre-production may be moving elsewhere. A source close to the industry tells us portions of the film "Cedar Rapids," starring Ed Helms (The Office), was to take place in Cedar Rapids. Now, the studio may be scouting locations not only out of the city, but out of the state.

Schott says Iowa stands to lose a lot, if that happens. "Think of all the tourism that has gone to Dyersville, in order to be on that field, and the positive PR that film has generated worldwide."

Another film, titled "Collapse," was to begin shooting last Wednesday in the Iowa City area. Filming has been put on hold for now.

Online Producer - Brady Smith

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