×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Emmett/Furla Films Plays the Tax Break Game

Production and finance company shoots in states and countries with favorable incentives

By choosing to shoot “Lone Survivor” in New Mexico, Emmett/Furla not only got an excellent stand-in for the pic’s Afghanistan setting less than two hours by air from Hollywood, it was also able to cash in on the state’s 25%-30% refundable tax credit.

“It’s a big chunk of money,” says producer Randall Emmett, and “with the economy we’ve had for the last five years, without an incentive, most investors don’t want to invest.”

The shingle is a seasoned veteran of the film tax credit world. When the domestic incentive race kicked off a decade ago, the company was among the first to cash in, shooting “Blind Horizon” in New Mexico and “A Love Song for Bobby Long” in Louisiana. It has braved inclement weather and lack of production infrastructure to take advantage of Alaska’s little-used transferable tax credit, which returns as much as 58% on in-state expenditures, for its recent release “The Frozen Ground” (pictured), starring Nicolas Cage and John Cusack. And it’s demonstrated agility on pics like “Broken City,” with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, stitching together various incentive-rich locales (New York, Louisiana and Massachusetts) for the right balance of looks and savings.

But relying on incentives carries a degree of risk, as Emmett found out in 2011 when Michigan’s new governor, Rick Snyder, put the brakes on the state’s 42% tax credit just as the shingle was beginning preproduction on “Freelancers,” starring 50 Cent and Robert De Niro.

Disaster was averted by relocating the film to New Orleans, but Emmett learned a valuable lesson about monitoring incentives, which can sometimes be unstable, throwing a production budget off kilter.

“You almost become a politician,” Emmett says. “You talk to the state and the officials and ask where the legislature is leaning. Are people in support of the film incentives, are they against them? Nothing’s guaranteed, but you try to at least figure it out.”

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Sued for Sexual Harassment by Longtime Makeup Artist

    A makeup artist who worked for Charlie Rose for 22 years has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, accusing the former CBS and PBS host of years of unlawful behavior toward female employees. Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. She also alleges that [...]

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer on Sustaining Growth and Recovering From the 'Dark Times'

    The Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, now in its 28th year, gives top executives at major companies the opportunity to make their case to investors — and the Goldman analysts the opportunity to keep things on the up and up. While the analysts don’t necessarily grill the executives, they don’t lob softball questions either. That was [...]

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

  • Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton

    Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton to Head Programming

    Nexstar Media Group has become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations after completing its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal creates a broadcasting colossus with more than 200 stations serving more than 100 markets, although a number of stations will be divested to keep Nexstar in compliance with FCC ownership limits. Nexstar, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content