As campaign slogans go, it was a good one: “Keep Zombies in Washington.”
And it worked in the end. The Washington Legislature is preparing to vote Friday to renew the state’s film production tax breaks.
The zombie connection stems from the SyFy Channel show “Z Nation,” a poster child for Washington state’s TV and film incentives. The series is shot in and around Spokane.
The existing tax credit was set to expire at midnight Friday. At the eleventh hour, state lawmakers extended the motion picture incentives for another 10 years at the current level of $3.5 million per year.
The renewal gives Washington Filmworks director Amy Lillard hope of landing the movie adaptation of the bestseller “The Boys in the Boat.”
“I think we have a real shot at getting the movie depending on when it gets made,” Lillard said.
Washington Filmworks is the de facto state film office and certifies productions to receive the tax credit.
Lillard said the Olympic rowing tale about a 1930s era University of Washington crew is currently on the “back burner” of the studio that owns the rights. That studio is Hollywood powerhouse The Weinstein Company, which did not reply to a request for comment.
“Bring the Boys home!” was the cry from University of Washington Rowing in February when the legislature considered adding an extra $3 million to the incentive program to lure the “Boys in the Boat” producers to film in Western Washington. But the extra money was not included in the final state spending blueprint. An overriding legislative priority this year was to find more money for public schools.
That creates the possibility that another state or province with more generous film incentives could lure away big budget movies such as “The Boys in the Boat.” British Columbia frequently hosts film shoots on productions scripted to take place in the U.S. Pacific Northwest because of the province’s much more generous subsidies and because the weak Canadian dollar stretches film budgets.
Oregon’s cash rebate fund for film and television productions is budgeted at $14 million per year.
The Weinstein Company acquired the rights to the rowing drama from author Daniel James Brown. The studio originally enlisted Shakespearean actor and director Kenneth Branagh to direct the movie adaptation, but he left the project after delays during development.
Harvey Weinstein told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview last year that “Friday Night Lights” director Peter Berg is now lined up to direct.