The annual film festival being held in central Iowa this weekend is kicking off with a “state of the industry” meeting Thursday, given the turmoil that’s erupted in recent weeks with Iowa’s film industry. Due to problems in the film office, Governor Culver suspended the film tax credit program, which has sparked breach of contract lawsuits from filmmakers.
Kim Busbee, director of the Wild Rose Independent Film Fest, says it’s not just moviemakers who are suffering. Busbee says, “It affects everybody in the state and now, with these lawsuits pending because we have reneged on some contracts and broken our word as Iowans, we’ve really got to get it turned around quickly.”
This week, a Des Moines-based film company filed suit against the Iowa Department of Economic Development, seeking six-and-a-half million dollars. Iowa Eye Entertainment claims the governor’s actions have forced its 20-million dollar movie production to grind to a complete halt. Busbee says blockbuster films like “Field of Dreams” and “Bridges of Madison County” will never be made in Iowa again unless the state rebuilds the bridges that’ve been burned.
“We’re not keeping our word with contracts and that’s big,” Busbee says. “We could lose some of our credit rating as a state. We could have problems with bonding now. It’s affecting all business in Iowa and we’re not keeping our word, which is an ethical dilemma. Even Iowans have been turned away and sent to Michigan to shoot their projects now, and they’re ones that have contracts signed with the state of Iowa.”
The Iowa Motion Picture Association is backing the film fest and Busbee says filmmakers, actors, film crews and anyone interested in the process should attend the State of the Industry meeting at 5 PM Thursday at the State Historical Building in Des Moines. “With the IMPA as one of our sponsors, we’re also making video testimonials for the film industry for reinstating the tax incentives with an oversight committee and some guidelines,” Busbee says. “We’re going to send it around to the world, to YouTube, to the governor, to anybody that can take a look at it.”
The film festival runs through Sunday at the Historical Building, with screenings of 36 films — both from Iowans and from around the globe. They’ll include shorts, documentaries, feature films, animation and more. For more information, visit: “www.ariesworks.com“.