- Associated Press - Monday, June 19, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The state rebate is nice, but Oklahoma filmmakers still have to send production-related work outside state lines, they said.

Filmmaker Ryan Bellgardt with Boiling Point Media showed his film Gremlin at deadCenter Film Festival on Thursday night. The movie was made in Oklahoma and used a computer-generated model that he was able to buy offline.

He’s in post-production with a new movie, The Jurassic Game. The dinosaurs were created by a Russian-based team. He said he’d like to hire a few employees to create computer-generated models so he can produce movies more frequently.

“If I had the infrastructure to make more movies, I could,” he said. “I’ve got distributors that are wanting us to make movies. I’m doing this at a pace that is slower than I would like with one film a year right now.”

His films are especially popular overseas, with U.S. sales accounting for only about 20 percent of his return.

“An American audience might watch it and say, ‘That’s weird,’” he said. “In Japan, it’s huge. Even from the script phase of our movie, we’re deciding what we can do to make it appeal to the broadest audience possible.”

NoCoast Entertainment Managing Partner Jeff Robison said he’s had trouble finding a full post-production company in the Sooner State.

He’s sent his post-production work to California. NoCoast showed The Scent of Rain and Lightning at deadCenter this year. It was shot in Oklahoma.

Robison said film-related companies are likely hesitant to set up shop in Oklahoma because the film rebate is scrutinized frequently by state lawmakers. This year, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill that cut the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program from $5 million to $4 million. The cut goes into effect July 1. There were 18 films shot in Oklahoma during the current fiscal year ending June 30.

The Journal Record (http://bit.ly/2s3PRpC ) reports that filmmakers can get up to a 35-percent rebate on any Oklahoma-based goods and service purchases, such as film, construction crews and prop rentals.

In late 2016, The PFM Group - hired by the state to review the tax incentives - recommended letting the film rebate program end in 2024. The group noted that 13 states have ended similar programs.

But Robison said the state has a fighting chance to bring more filmmakers here, especially with the diversity in locations. The state has sand dunes, a Victorian downtown and a prairie that it can offer as a backdrop.

“If there was a real sense that the film rebate was a viable thing, then you’ll see more businesses come to Oklahoma to make films,” he said. “It could be a smaller-scale Georgia.”

Filmmaker Matt Leach said he’s had to use New York- or California-based distribution companies for films by his Tulsa-based company, This Land Film. The company’s Far Western was among the films featured at deadCenter.

He said with the internet, film distribution seems like it could be simple because people can self-distribute. But selling a movie is a full-time job and it takes connections to be successful. He said having distributors here to visit with filmmakers could also help the companies make better productions because they can learn about the market demand.

An Oklahoma-based distribution company could be a regional asset.

“I think if you had good relationships with people and were able to really offer something competitive to these other companies, then it’s possible,” he said.

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Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

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