Producers of a movie about
one of the state's most notorious crimes -- the 1965 torture
murder of teenager Sylvia Likens in Indianapolis -- say
they wanted to shoot on location, but Indiana wouldn't offer
enough financial incentives to bring the production here.
Indiana is missing out
on tens of millions of dollars in economic benefits, filmmakers
say, as other states lure movie projects with incentives
that are often double or in some cases triple what Indiana
The producer of the most
quintessentially Hoosier film, "Hoosiers," said
that if he were making the 1986 film today, superior incentives
might lead him to shoot in Louisiana.
Louisiana has "a lot of small towns that could pass
for a small town in Indiana," said Bloomington resident
Angelo Pizzo, whose "Hoosiers" was filmed mostly
Louisiana offers a 25 percent tax incentive for motion pictures,
one of the highest in the country and more than twice Indiana's.
Indiana offers a tax
credit of up to 10 percent of a company's "qualified
capital investment," and an undisclosed cash incentive
on a case-by-case basis, according to Whitney Overturf,
Indiana Economic Development Corp. project manager for film
At least one other
movie with an Indiana storyline is being produced in another
"Home of the
Giants," starring Haley Joel Osment as a high school
journalist covering his hometown basketball team in Indiana,
is filming in North Carolina, though a few exterior scenes
were shot in Marion in March.
The film's director/writer,
Rusty Gorman, is from Marion.
"They came to
the state, a proposal was made to them, but it was far short
of what North Carolina could offer," said Brian Hasler,
lobbyist for the Indiana Media Industry Network, which promotes
filmmaking in the state.
Indiana offered "Home
of the Giants" $30,000 to $36,000 in incentives; North
Carolina offered about $200,000, he said.
Illinois, South Carolina,
Florida and Pennsylvania are among other more aggressive
states that offer filmmakers financial incentives of 15
to 20 percent.
"Right now, Illinois
has a 20 percent tax credit, which is basically a blanket
tax credit for companies," said Overturf. "We
are seriously taking a look at that to see if we can't match
moves to L.A.
Tommy O'Haver ("Ella Enchanted"), who graduated
from Carmel High School, wanted to make his film about the
Likens case, "An American Crime," in his home
But the incentives Indiana
offered were only about one-fifth what producers were looking
for, so they're filming in Los Angeles.
The horrific story of
16-year-old Sylvia Likens is seared into local memory. She
and her younger sister, Jenny, were left in the care of
Gertrude Baniszewski by their carnival worker parents.
Sylvia's mutilated body
was found by police in a rundown house at 3850 E. New York
St. on Oct. 26, 1965. She had been beaten, burned with cigarettes,
branded, scalded and thrown against walls by Baniszewski,
some of her children and neighborhood kids.
Five people, including
Baniszewski and two of her children, were convicted in the
The screenplay, O'Haver said during a break from filming,
is based on court transcripts. "It's an interpretation
O'Haver first heard about
the Likens murder in high school. "Gertrude Baniszewski
had come up for parole. It was all over The Indianapolis
Star at that time.
"I had just read
'Lord of the Flies' (William Golding's novel about young
plane crash survivors turning to savagery), and when I read
about the case, I thought, 'Oh, my God, there's some truth
to all of that.' "
Indy scenes possible
There's still a possibility
that the movie might do a minimal amount of filming in Indianapolis.
"It's up to the
financier to say, and if Tommy had his druthers, yes,"
said producer Jocelyn Hayes.
She said "other
states are offering more and a more usable kind of money"
than Indiana to woo filmmakers.
States offer filmmakers
tax credits, supplier rebates and cash grants to lure them
away from Hollywood. These are intended in part to defray
production costs, including transporting and housing a film
crew on location.
Another problem for Indiana:
Even with universities such as Ball State, Butler, Indiana
and Notre Dame turning out students with degrees in television,
film, broadcasting and related areas, there isn't enough
of a home-grown labor pool to staff a feature film, industry
Greg Malone, a member
of the volunteer film task force that advises the IEDC on
film matters, isn't surprised that "An American Crime"
stayed in California.
"They have a very
deep crew base. All the actors can sleep in their own beds
at night; you don't have to provide travel for anybody;
you don't have to ship anything. And if you need a piece
of fancy equipment, you can get it for the cost of a day-rate
Hasler, the lobbyist
for the Indiana Media Industry Network, said Michael S.
"Mickey" Maurer, IEDC president and Indiana secretary
of commerce, has indicated that for the right project, "he
is prepared to come forward with an even better package"
than those offered to "Home of the Giants" and
"An American Crime."
But it's more than the
loss of theatrical films that bothers Hasler.
"If we don't step
up to the plate, we're going to see a lot of our crew base
and talented folks moving to Illinois or Wisconsin (another
aggressive state) to do their work."
According to Malone,
the only movies that seriously consider filming in Indiana
are so low-budget that they generally don't qualify for
incentives in other states.
He said bills introduced
in the state legislature in each of the past three years
would have offered filmmakers more inducements to come to
Indiana. They were received favorably by many legislators,
but "key committee chairmen put the kibosh on the bills
in all three legislative sessions."
Attracting movies has
become competitive because host states have discovered what
an economic boost they can be, even with the cost of tax
breaks and other incentives.
"Walk the Line"
dropped $39 million into the Tennessee economy, according
to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Louisiana, which has
one of the highest tax incentives for motion pictures, has
seen filmmaking grow from a $20 million industry in 2002
to $625 million in 2005, the paper cited.
Pizzo, whose 2003 film
"The Game of Their Lives" was shot in St. Louis,
said an economic impact study found that the movie, which
had a $17.9 million budget and received a $500,000 tax credit,
had a total impact on the city of $55 million.
"What happens is,
these (movie) companies come in, they drop all this money
and they leave. It's a very efficient, economic way of pulling
money into a state. I don't know what other kind of industry
comes in, cleans up and leaves," Pizzo said.
Call Star reporter Bonnie Britton
at (317) 444-6258.
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