State reaps benefits of incentives

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Linda Turk-Frazier of Brewton plays a slave in the movie. Here, she poses on set Friday just before lunch.

Linda Turk-Frazier of Brewton plays a slave in the movie. Here, she poses on set Friday just before lunch.


Film activity has become a hot topic in Alabama as projects licensed throughout the state increased in 2012.

The Alabama Film Office (AFO) announced a significant increase in film and television production activity in Alabama due to incentives passed in 2009. In 2012, a total of 126 production inquiries resulted in 31 projects filming in the state – included in what was a student production called “In Fear of Death,” which was shot in various locations in Covington, Escambia and Conecuh counties.

The legislature granted $10 million to rebate incentives for qualified productions in fiscal year 2012. That amount was increased to $15 million for 2013. Production companies spent $33.5 million here – which is up from $22 million in 2011.  A total of $9.5 million of the money spent was returned to the companies in rebates.

“These productions provided over 3,000 jobs last year and contributed a positive economic impact to the state,” said Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.

During the making of the movie “42,” a portion of which was filmed at historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, 200 hotel rooms were rented for three weeks.

“Visiting filmmakers and their crews are spending money locally,” said Canfield, “and Alabama-based crews are able to live and work at home.”

Other projects included the documentary “Muscle Shoals,” which debuted at last month’s Sundance Film Festival and closed to a standing ovation; “A Smile as Big as the Moon,” filmed at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and aired on ABC and the Hallmark Channel to more than 13 million viewers, and recently won top honors at the 21st Annual Movieguide Awards Gala in Los Angeles.

A host of reality shows, documentaries, commercials and student films were set in Alabama.

On the local front in 2012, 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 student film to the area.

Titled “Only Fear of Death,” the film was 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.