Gone Girl brought a frenzy of excitement to the Cape Girardeau area and the state of Missouri, but was the $2.36 million tax credit worth the 15 minutes of fame? Stating that “the production hired 116 Missourians, including more than 20 off-duty law enforcement officials,” proponents of the film tax-credit program tout its success in creating jobs for Missourians.
These figures, however, fail to acknowledge that the jobs are temporary and part-time. Even more troubling, most of the higher-paying jobs used in the production of Gone Girl went to nonresidents who were brought in from LA. Now that the production of the film has finished, these so-called “created” jobs are gone.
Despite the reality of failed promises of job creation, many legislators and supporters are calling for the reinstatement of the film tax credit (which expired in November 2013) to entice movie producers to film in Missouri. The tax credit, which reduces the production companies’ tax liability, is intended to generate substantial economic activity and jobs as a result of the productions.
There is little evidence to support the notion that these tax credits are successful. A 2010 study by the Tax Foundation, however, shows that film tax credits don’t create long-term jobs, nor do they create sustainable economic growth for the state.
Most film production jobs are filled by out-of-state residents specializing in particular areas of audio or visual production. Additionally, producing a film is a relatively short-term venture in comparison to other investment projects. Since most of these positions are not permanent, “workers are left unemployed” after the production ends unless a steady stream of films is present.
The ugly truth of film tax credits is that they bring an industry into a state that doesn’t have the proper infrastructure to support said industry, and thus they do not produce long-term, well-paying jobs. Missourians deserve more than a brief moment on the silver screen. Instead, Missouri policymakers need to invest in ventures that will bring long-term economic growth to the state.