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Lights, Camera, Money

Tech. Sgt. Jerome Tayborn
U.S Air Force

When the state legislature renewed Hawaii’s film production tax credit, it added a plot twist — a cap on the credit. And that has industry leaders concerned.

Hawaii’s film and TV production tax credit had been set expire on Jan. 1, 2019. Two years ago, the Legislature voted to extend that credit to 2026, but capped the total amount of tax credits to be given out to $35 million as of January 1, 2019. Currently, the state pays out some $50 million year in credits on half a billion dollars of direct spending by productions in Hawaii.

PBN recently sat down with industry leaders representing the Hawaii Film Commission, the Academy for Creative Media, and the production labor union. As well as a filmmaker and an executive from Kualoa Ranch. All are concerned that the cap could deter productions. They cite, as examples, states like Louisiana and Florida. Both had grown flourishing local film industries through such credits, only to see them collapse when the credits were taken off the table.

The cap comes at a delicate time when the industry is booming, with “Hawaii Five-0,” now a new “Magnum, P.I.,” plus multiple major feature films.

Credit jai Mansson / Flickr
Hawaii Five-0 Production Crew

Buoyed by such activity, Hawaii is moving forward with construction of a new high-tech $33 million home for the Academy for Creative Media. There are also plans for a long-awaited, $63 million studio facility to be developed by private industry.

Both investments assume a steady flow of work for ACM graduates, and steady demand for Hawaii as a location. But, industry leaders fear, just two TV shows like “Hawaii Five-0” could consume most of the credits below the cap. And that would leave nothing to entice feature films.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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