The success of the movie "Sugar" could help Iowa land more big-budget, feature films in the future. Doug Miller is a consultant to the Quad Cities Film Coalition and served as field producer for the movie, which was shot in Davenport and Burlington. He says referrals from high quality productions, like "Sugar," are invaluable in attracting others to the area.
"Film companies that are looking at the region will ask other film companies, ‘what was it like working there? What was it like getting what you needed?’ Referrals from productions like Sugar, which was low budget but a quality production, those…are great referrals," Miller said. He says a measure passed by the legislature this year will also help the state land more film productions.
Miller says 25-percent of the dollars spent in Iowa by a film’s production company are eligible for state tax credits. This session, lawmakers expanded those credits to include costs associated with the actors and directors involved in the film.
"When they’re looking at states to shoot on location, it could be anywhere based on the actual physical location. The next question is who has incentives and what are the incentives and do they include the ‘above the line’ costs of directors and actors, star power…and if you’re not in that ball game – they go down to the next person on the list," Miller said.
"Sugar" tells the story of a minor league baseball player from the Dominican Republic who comes to play in Iowa. Miller says a small-budget film like "Sugar" will spend 30-to-$50,000 per day while on location in the state. "Sugar" has been drawing critical acclaim and was nominated for best screenplay in the 2008 Spirit Awards. Miller made his comments on the Iowa Public Radio program "Talk at Twelve."