Movie incentive bill could benefit us

Published 12:03 am Saturday, March 3, 2012

Production designer Roxie Kratt, flanked by the movie’s director Michael “Mike” Infante and assistant director Jessica Thoubboron.

A bill that would increase the number of movie and television productions filmed in Alabama has passed the House and is now awaiting debate in the Senate.

Under the current law, the state can only spend $10 million a year overall on incentives. The bill to be considered Tuesday would raise that cap incrementally to $25 million a year by 2014.

Several lawmakers said they hope if the incentives get final legislative approval they mean that award-winning films will be made in Alabama.

So why should Covington County residents care? Because, as of this moment, a team is wrapping up production on a movie filmed at various locations through the county.

Kent Smith, an Andalusia native with decades of experience as a location scout for the film industry, helped bring the 19-member crew for the 35-minute film to the area, which also includes portions of Escambia and Conecuh counties.

Titled “Only Fear of Death,” the film is a senior thesis for Michael “Mike” Infante, a student the New York School of Visual and Performing Arts. His arrival was orchestrated by both Smith and Tommy Fell, a location coordinator for the Alabama Film Office.

On Friday, Fell said while the local production wouldn’t have met the guidelines set out in the bill, it’s still a piece of the movie wheel in Alabama.

“To qualify, there must be $500,000 spent in production costs,” Fell said. “With that said, this production is just as important to (the state) as the ones that do qualify. And while (Infante) is just a film student, he represents the next generation of filmmakers.

“It’s important to this community, and to the state, to attract all types of productions – be it small student films, television, reality shows or blockbuster-type movies,” he said.