Kansas City Council Boosts Tax Credits For Film Projects Made In Kansas City

Oct 9, 2017

Kansas City's Union Station was one of the backdrops in Season 9 of 'American Ninja Warrior.' The episodes aired in August. Officials say tax rebates provided an incentive.
Credit Fernando Leon/NBC

Commercials, TV shows and movies can provide an economic boost — if they're shot in your city or state. 

In the fall of 2013, when Gone Girl filmed in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, it contributed nearly $8 million to the state's economy, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. The production marked the last for Missouri's film production tax credit, which expired in November 2013.

About 40 states across the country offer a film incentive program, but not in Kansas or Missouri. So some cities have stepped in to provide their own rebates.

In 2016, Kansas City, Missouri, established tax credits for productions, such as feature films, commercials, TV shows, short films and music videos. On Thursday, the Kansas City Council boosted the rebate to up to 10 percent, reflecting an increase of 2.5 percent, for "qualified film production expenditures." It goes into effect on November 1. 

"We tried very much to get back into the game, and get back into it in unique way," says City Councilman Scott Wagner, who co-sponsored the resolution.

Kansas City Film Commissioner Stephane Scupham, who's been on the job since 2014, says they've learned a lot since the ordinance first went into effect. This includes the importance of lowering the minimum amount a production needs to spend to get the rebate. 

"It's more competitive, more effective," says Scupham, "and even more efficient for both the productions and the city."

City Councilman Scott Taylor co-sponsored the measure. He says it not only gets Kansas City’s foot in the door, but it also provides job opportunities to actors and film crews. 

"And we've got the talent here," says Taylor, "but we want to grow it and make sure they have substantial work to stay in Kansas City." 

The first film in the incentive program, All Creatures Here Below, is expected to premiere in 2018.  David Dastmalchian, a Shawnee Mission south graduate, wrote and starred in it. And Scupham has hopes that he'll bring his next production here, too. 

"It's about getting them here the first time, and then that makes them repeat customers over and over," she says. 

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.