Polone: Why Taxpayers Get Screwed When Every State and Canada Fights to Lure Movie Shoots

canadawood Photo: Photo-Illustration: Mary-Louise Price; Photos: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images, Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

This week I am to have a meeting with a studio about a plan for producing a movie I have in development. When we start the discussions about where to shoot, the first thing discussed won't be which location has the perfect look or the right caliber of local crew; rather, it will be about which state or province will pay us the most to bring our production to their territory. When I produced Zombieland, there was never a discussion of shooting the movie in California, where most of the action takes place and where one finds the best moviemaking infrastructure and crews. California had no state incentive at that time, so instead we shot the movie in Georgia and received about $4.5 million in tax credits. And as someone who has worked on and benefited from productions that have received funding from the Federal Government of Canada, the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba, the states of Georgia, Louisiana, New York, and California, as well as New York City, I still believe that these subsidies, both in the U.S. and abroad, need to stop. They're bad economics, they don't make a film better (at times I think they actually make them worse, since trying to make one location look like another is never as impressive as just going to the place the movie is set), and they're a misuse of public funds, especially during this seemingly unending recession.

Gavin Polone is an agent turned manager turned producer. His production company Pariah has brought you such movies and TV shows as Panic Room, Zombieland, Gilmore Girls, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Follow him on Twitter @gavinpolone.