BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Award winning comedian and producer Dan Aykroyd joined the cast of Hollywood producers and celebrities this week who are lobbying for a boost in Hawaii state film subsidies and credits.
Aykroyd, who has his own production company, sent a letter to lawmakers asking them to support HB 1551 and SB 1550, which would increase the film production tax credit on Oahu by 35 percent (from 15 percent) and 40 percent (from 20 percent) on the neighbor islands.
The legislation would cost the state an estimated $46.3 million in lost revenues, according to the state tax department.
Additional tax credits would be driven by new infrastructure and productions utilizing animated special effects, while the companies could benefit from hotel room tax exemptions, otherwise known as the Transit Accommodation Tax, if their productions require more than one month of filming. They could also rack up rebates if they offer training programs. The Tax Foundation of Hawaii is opposed to the idea.
At the request of the CEO of Hollywood entertainment company Relativity Media, Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. testified at the Hawaii Capitol on Monday. Gooding has appeared in motion pictures filmed here including Outbreak and Pearl Harbor. Lawmakers were invited to attend a a Valentines Day evening soiree with Hollywood celebrities.
Relativity Media and Shangri-La are the driving force behind the legislation. They’ve promised the state, in exchange for tax credits, they will construction of two state-of-the-art “green” film studios on Oahu and Maui and film productions here.
They also are using their political ties. Bill Clinton, who has financial ties to both companies and other motion picture industry executives, sent a last week to lawmakers in support.
The legislation is moving forward in the House and Senate with some amendments.