'Snowbate' Movie, TV Incentive Program Facing Deep Cuts

April 10, 2017 06:57 PM

The Legislature is considering cutting 85 to 90 percent of the funding the Minnesota Film and TV Board receives to attract movie and television productions to the state.  Do you agree with the proposed cuts?  Let these lawmakers know your views!

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An incentive program designed to lure TV programs and feature films to Minnesota could be cut by up to 90 percent if a current proposal before the Legislature is approved.

The "Snowbate" is offered by the Minnesota Film and TV Board. It provides a 20 to 25 percent cash-back reimbursement to filmmakers on production expenditures.  

Cutting funding was discussed in the last legislative session as well.

RELATED: Funding for 'Snowbate' Program Again on the Chopping Block

However, the proposed budget currently under consideration by the Minnesota Senate would cut state funding of the "Snowbate" by 90 percent.

The proposed budget in the Minnesota House of Representatives would cut the incentive program by 85 percent.

"This kind of reduction really would dramatically impact our ability to attract the level of production budgets that we've been able to attract," Lucinda Winter of the Minnesota Film and TV Board said.

She points to the movie "Wilson" starring Woody Harrelson as a recent success story. Although it was a low-budget film, the producers spent $4 million in Minnesota while shooting at 54 locations. The film qualified for a $1.05 million "snowbate."

In 2015, the Minnesota Legislative Auditor examined the film board's work and made several recommendations. The auditor said "the Legislature has not been clear about its expectations of the board." It found only a few minor problems, but noted the board's work is hampered by "inconsistent funding" from the Legislature.

Winter says she hopes the Legislature will reconsider cutting the "Snowbate" program from $10 million over the last two years to either $1 million (Senate bill) or $1.5 million (House).

"We're just getting ramped up for repeat business and we'd honestly hate to see that come to a halt," Winter said.


Tim Vetscher and Tom Hauser

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