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| Paducah Sun

Film industry poised to grow in Paducah

Paducah's long been home to a fair share of filmmakers, their numbers growing alongside the river city's creative culture. With the passage of House Bill 340 last spring enhancing Kentucky's tax incentives for filmmakers, there's hope the city's film industry may soon grow stronger than ever. "It's been an exciting year here in filmmaking because of how much we've accomplished without anyone even knowing it yet," said Chris Bower, who was named Paducah's "Film Concierge" by the local Convention and Visitor's Bureau (CVB) following the passage of HB 340. "We're actually laying down this great body of work. When something big happens, we'll be ready." A longtime film lover, Bower has been producing and acting in films for about a decade. As film concierge, Bower's been working hard to pull together his and his friends' extensive knowledge of the filmmaking resources western Kentucky offers. Say Kentucky's new film incentives pique the interest of a West Coast filmmaker who needs an industrial plant, or a dam, or an airport that can look like it's straight out of the 1960s. Western Kentucky has all those things, Bower said, and he'd know exactly who to put that filmmaker in touch with to get the ball rolling on that film. His goal is to eventually build a resource database that will make it even easier to show filmmakers exactly what the Paducah area has to offer. Bower gave the example of "Clock Out," an action film he helped with that was filmed largely in Paducah, but set in Venice Beach, California. "We went out and shot some scenes (in Venice Beach), but we filmed the majority of the movie here, and no one noticed the difference," Bower said. "It looked like Venice Beach. Paducah's a very adaptable place." HB 340 increased Kentucky's existing income tax credit for films from 20 percent to 30 percent for each production's Kentucky­based spending, with an extra 5 percent incentive for using Kentucky resident labor or filming in an "enhanced incentive county." The bill also cut in half the spending thresholds for productions to qualify for incentives. 3/24/2017 Film industry poised to grow in Paducah 2/2 The cutoff for feature films and TV shows was cut from $500,000 to $250,000 and only $125,000 for Kentuckybased production companies. For commercials the cutoff dropped from $200,000 to $100,000, and for documentaries the threshold is now only $20,000, down from $50,000 (and only $10,000 for Kentucky companies). These incentives make Kentucky more competitive with states like Georgia and Louisiana, which have some of the best production incentive packages in the country, Bower said. A few years down the road, Bower and the Paducah CVB have reason to hope Paducah could snag a big production that could drive tourism in the future. "We saw an opportunity to create a portal to complement those incentives so that we could really promote the venues for production and filming we have here in Paducah," said Laura Oswald, Paducah CVB marketing director. "We already have the River's Edge International Film Festival, which is such a great opportunity to connect people with filmmakers, and Maiden Alley (Cinema) is doing great work getting people more interested in the art of filmmaking. This takes it all a step further." Loyal fans love visiting locations where their favorite films and TV shows were shot. Just imagine if western Kentucky were home to a hit like "The Walking Dead," Bower said. That would keep people coming to Paducah for decades, not to mention the jobs it would create during production. Already there's a multimillion dollar independent film production looking to film in western Kentucky next spring, Bower said, and the Paducah­made "Dooms Chapel Horror" has been picked up for worldwide distribution in the fall of 2016. The film, produced by Bower and directed by Maiden Alley Cinema's co­programmer John Holt, has been selected for film festivals around the world. Now the challenge is getting local, non­filmmaking people on board with the idea, Bower said. "Most people are used to a certain way of life here, and it doesn't usually involve something as outer space as filmmaking," he said. "They just have to understand that it's a real thing, that this can happen here, and once they do there's no limit to the potential a film can have thanks to the support of this community."