New incentive program encourages film makers to shoot productions in the Northland

Emily Ness
Updated: February 21, 2021 10:40 PM
Created: February 21, 2021 05:50 PM

Making a movie here in the Northland just got easier.

This is because the St. Louis County Board has approved a production incentive program that reimburses film makers for some of the money they spend here.

“The incentive is 25% cash rebate on any expenses that they have expended in St. Louis County. So, that includes crew, transportation, hotels, restaurants, excreta,” Shari Marshik, Executive Director of Upper Midwest Film said.

To participate in the incentive program, film makers must apply online and be approved for it.

“There are a lot of things that go into the consideration for approval—things like quantity and quality of the project, how many days they are shooting, the amount of spend that they are shooting, excreta,” Marshik said.

Once approved, film makers come to St. Louis County, spend 25% of their total budget for the film here locally and then apply for a 25% cash rebate.

This year, the county has allocated $1 million dollars to reimburse film makers.

“What we are doing is investing in the community and in the businesses that are here,” St. Louis County Commissioner Frank Jewell said. “Nobody gets money back unless they've spent money here and I think that's really key.”

In addition to bringing business to the Northland, the incentive program hopes to bring jobs.

“There's a lot of people that already have skills and abilities here that are transferable into these productions--including other things like carpenters and electricians and painters. So, it’s not just in front of the camera we are taking about. Most jobs are actually behind the camera,” Marshik said.

Internships will also be part of the incentive program.

"For every ten employees, they have to hire one intern, so that automatically means that people are getting trained on the job right here in St. Louis County," Marshik said.

Already, film makers have shown interest in the incentive program.

“The last count was 39 projects that are looking at us right now because they'd like to bring it here,” Riki McManus, Chief Production Officer for the Upper Midwest Film Office said.

Once they bring their film here, they bring Duluth closer to the big screen.

“Duluth is actually very picture ready,” McManus said. “I mean, Lake Superior has doubled as the ocean. And, the uniqueness of our city, the amazing forestry we have around us and the natural beauty. It is ready for a big close up.”

More information about the incentive program and how to get involved can be found here.

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Emily Ness

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