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Bill would provide tax incentives for film and media production companies

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Posted at 8:46 PM, Feb 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 00:04:55-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Bobby Christman started acting in college.

He has a degree from IU in theatre and communications, and his work is featured in "Cold Creek," a new short western film shot in Southern Indiana.

"It's top secret," he said. "They haven't let me see anything but the trailer, but what I've seen looks fantastic."

Christman is back in front of the camera after taking a 10-year break to raise his daughters. However, right now, he is having a hard time finding work in Indiana.

"It's basically impossible to make a living as an actor here because we don't have any real paying jobs that pay well enough to pay your bills," Christman said.

Christman said the bread and butter for all actors is commercial work.

"If you just get a national commercial, a union spot, it could literally pay your bills for a year. We get none of that now," he said. "There are no tax breaks. Every state around us has tax breaks, so when I want to audition for something like that I have to go to Cincinnati, Louisville or Chicago."

Senate Bill 262 aims to change that by providing film and media production incentives. State Sen. Justin Busch (R-Fort Wayne) is the bill's author.

"Thirty-two other states have a similar program," Busch said. "We are just trying to be competitive. Here in the Midwest, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois are actually taking away TV shows and movies that have considered to be filmed here in Indiana, but have chosen to go to those states with a similar program.

"These tax breaks or incentives they would really help level the playing field for us. We are losing work to all of the surrounding states."

Busch said he thinks the bill will help grow the state's economy and keep talent in the Indiana.

"We have a great film schools in Indiana," he said. "Sixty-five percent of our graduates of those schools leave and he got it to go work other places. This is a jobs and economy bill. Hopefully, we can have some of that local talent to stay right here in the Hoosier State. They can realize their dreams and stay home in Indiana.

While there have been similar bills in past sessions that have not passed, Busch is hopeful this year will be different. He said 16 senators have jumped on the bill from both sides of the aisle and it is one of the most exciting pieces of legislation they have seen in the first half of the session.

For Christman, the bill would mean doing what he loves while also getting to raise his family.

"I always tell my daughters the reason why I started back to acting after 10 years off. I just told my wife I miss it so much. I said how can I ever tell my girls to follow their dreams if I'm not following mine?" he said. "I am trying to set a good example trying to make them proud of daddy. I am trying to be home."