HONOLULU (April 26, 2011) – Island Film Group, the Honolulu-based production company behind Soul Surfer – directed by Sean McNamara and starring AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Carrie Underwood and Hawaii’s own Sonya Balmores – last week celebrated the ongoing box office success of the film.
Shot on location on Oahu’s North Shore and in Hanalei, Kauai, Soul Surfer is the latest in a string of successful productions filmed in Hawaii and produced by Island Film Group.
Since its founding in 2007, Island Film Group has played a major role in the development of Hawaii’s film industry, producing film and television projects such as Beyond the Break, Special Delivery, Deadly Honeymoon and Princess Ka’iulani. As a local employer, Island Film Group is working to educate the public, as well as community leaders, on the benefits of supporting Hawaii’s burgeoning film industry.
Presently, a measure to increase film industry tax credits, which are designed to attract major productions to Hawaii, is working its way through the legislative process. Although the industry recently lost Hawaii’s investment tax credit, measure SB318 SD2 HD2 could increase tax credits for productions on Oahu and the neighbor islands, currently 15 percent and 20 percent respectively.
Today, an estimated 42 states provide incentives to the film industry. However, many states offer greater incentives than Hawaii, such as Alaska with a tax credit of up to 44 percent.
According to Ricardo Galindez, co-founder of Island Film Group, Hawaii’s film industry has flourished faster and more successfully than many others in recent years. Hawaii’s film industry, in particular, has the power to become a major long-term employer.
“When a film or television production selects a community for filming, it has a far-reaching impact that can last for decades,” said Galindez. “Apart from the hard dollars these productions spend in communities on hotels, permitting, transportation, restaurants and services, many local professionals get new opportunities to work.
“Carpenters, electricians, caterers, painters, make-up artists, costumers, healthcare providers, translators, location scouts, drivers, greensmen and many more: Literally, a breath-taking range of occupations benefit directly through both short- and long-term employment.”
For example, 1,060 Hawaii residents, including 740 extras, worked on the production of Soul Surfer, which as of Monday, April 25 had earned almost $30 million at the box office.
“When the industry establishes itself in a region, skilled professionals are in-demand on a constant basis,” said Roy Tjioe, co-founder, Island Film Group. “Moreover, the industry fuels job creation in the fields of production and post-production, such as editing, special effects, animation and sound.
“Over the course of time, skilled workers can depend on consistent employment across many productions, just as they do in major centers such as Los Angeles and New York. Vancouver, Canada had relatively little production twenty years ago, but after tax credit legislation was enacted, productions flocked there. It has since become a major player in production and post-production.”
What does a growing film industry mean for Hawaii’s economy? While productions pay State sales tax on a variety of goods and services ranging from hotels to equipment rentals, local wage earners also pay State income taxes and contribute to the community. In addition, production companies pay payroll taxes (including unemployment taxes) for these employees.
In today’s economy, many states are looking to reduce or eliminate film industry tax credits. Galindez and Tjioe believe this is extremely shortsighted. By reducing film industry tax credits, States might save money in the short-term, but it will certainly curtail the potential for establishing a thriving industry.
“In Hawaii, we’re looking at an industry that has the power to employ thousands of residents in skilled, creative and well-paying jobs for years to come,” continued Tjioe. “What other viable, clean industries are expanding in Hawaii? At a time when we compete on a global level for every job, it makes no sense to discourage growth in an industry that creates meaningful employment in Hawaii.”
Island Film Group is a Hawai‘i-based entertainment production and financing company. Through its related companies, Island Film Group works with local, national and international filmmakers to develop and produce film and television projects in and about Hawai‘i for domestic and international distribution. To learn more, visit www.islandfilmgroup.com.