When he was named Colorado Film Commissioner by the newly minted Gov. John Hickenlooper, Donald Zuckerman said he wanted to double the state’s production incentive and bring incentivized feature films to Colorado.

He delivered on both pledges.

During his first year in office, Zuckerman built the needed coalition to convince a wary legislature to bump the state’s non-competitive 10 per cent production incentive to 20 per cent. During his second year, he spread the word that Colorado was back in the game with an incentive that at least begins to compete with other states offering far more lucrative deals.

His efforts culminated with a recent announcement from his office that the state had lined up incentive agreements with three unique feature film productions and several other production projects – essentially committing all of the state’s available incentive funds for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

“We are incentivizing over this fiscal year $20 million in production that was not here,” Zuckerman said. “In the prior fiscal year we incentivized about $2.5 million in production. We’ve seen an eight-fold increase in one year.”

So what caused the recent spike in incentive activity?

“It just took us a while to get the word out,” Zuckerman said. “A big thing was our attendance at the American Film Market in November. Now that I think we’ve got everybody’s attention, I think we’re in good shape.”

Of course, now he needs to refill the film incentive offers for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which begins July 1. In a recent interview with the CFVA eBulletin, Zuckerman said he was in discussion with the governor’s office about a new appropriation, but could not disclose how much the Office of Film Television and Media (OFTM) would be requesting. He said his office is talking with legislators about next year’s appropriation. He has a meeting soon with brand new lawmakers, to help bring them up to speed.

CFVA gets high marks

The film commissioner offered high praise for the CFVA and its efforts to help get the incentive doubled by the legislature. “I think the CFVA was really instrumental last year in getting this bill passed,” he said. “Every time we stumbled or hit a little roadblock, the members came out and sent the message to the legislature that we really needed this. The legislature listens to the citizens, and these are the working citizens.”

That support needs to continue, CFVA board members conclude. CFVA members are urged to let their state representatives and senators know that the incentive is working, is generating significant economic activity in Colorado, is creating permanent jobs in the state, and helps show off our beautiful environs to the rest of the world, making incentivized films and television shows indispensable tourism promotion tools.


Reflecting on the recently incentivized features, the term BIG TIME comes to mind when pondering the unique nature of each feature project: a BIG TIME NAME attaches to the coming of age film “Dear Eleanor” ($1.5 million local spend) because its production company, Appian Way, is owned by acting legend Leonardo DiCaprio; BIG TIME LOCATION seems to define “Caribou Records” ($7.4 million local spend), a film about Nederland’s legendary recording studio, Caribou Ranch, where the likes of Elton John and Paul McCartney cut tracks; and BIG TIME INDIE is the only description for “The Frame” ($380,000 local spend), a new film by Colorado’s own Jamin and Kiowa Winans.

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