Montana offers cash grants to lure more movie, TV shoots

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It’s not enough to offer tax rebates and credits to lure filmmakers. Now Montana has joined a handful of states offering outright cash to get Hollywood’s attention.

In addition to breathtaking mountain scenery and pristine wilderness, Montana is touting its Big Sky Film Grant, which provides up to $1 million in cash per fiscal year to Montana-based film and TV productions.

The program, which launched earlier this year, targets feature-length films and television series that shoot at least 50% of principal photography in Montana.


ON LOCATION: Where the cameras roll

Eligible projects receive funds 30 to 60 days after shooting wraps, far sooner than most traditional state film rebates and tax credit programs.

The cash grant supplements an existing refundable tax credit of 9% on production-related expenditures in Montana and 14% on spending for local crew and talent.

Over the years, the Big Sky State has drawn some high-profile movies, including “A River Runs Through it,” “The Horse Whisperer” and “Far and Away.” Now Montana is hungry for more.

“It is our goal with the Big Sky Film Grant to offer Montana’s one-of-a-kind places and production talent to filmmakers,” Montana Film Commissioner Deny Staggs said in a statement.

The Montana Film Office has allocated grant funds to nearly two dozen productions that shot in Montana, including “The Thin Line,” a feature-length comedy by producer Jay Thames and director Neil Thompson, and a film adaptation of James Welch’s classic novel “Winter in the Blood,” from the director duo Alex and Andrew Smith.


The latter received a $25,000 cash grant from Montana and is scheduled to premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 14. Naturally, Staggs will attend the festival to talk up the Big Sky Film Grant.


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