From job creation to reducing brain drain to economic expansion through a high-growth, "new economy" industry, there are numerous reasons to support expansion of the MEDIA Act. The Montana Film Coalition has created the collateral below to explain the benefits a robust media production industry would have on the state.
The film industry's impact on local economies is immediate and significant. We've talked with a number of Montana's small business owners to discover how they've been affected by recent film/tv productions. In otherwise economically bleak times, a wide variety of local businesses have thrived over the past year, thanks largely to the surge in Montana filming. But don't take our word for it...enjoy the video.
Open the Excel file below to see data on forecasted economic returns to Montana from an expanded film production incentive.
Tab one, labeled Dynamic Fiscal Projections, demonstrates the economic expansion anticipated based on different tax cap scenarios.
Darby Rodeo Association Arena has become the “Field of Dreams” for the rodeo world, with the advent of the Yellowstone Riggin’ Rally. Originally conceived as a one-off perk for the cast and crew of Yellowstone, the excitement it created among contestants and fans has led it to become a PRCA-sanctioned annual event. "In the rodeo world, this is like epic — the top 24 bareback riders in the PRCA standings riding in this little arena in Darby, right in your face," said Cal Ruark, president of the Darby Rodeo Association. "Where are you going to go and see that caliber of bareback riders in a little-bitty arena in one day in any other town, let alone a little town?"
Cortney Bergeson, a project manager with TC Glass in Missoula, said the company was hired to replace the tinted-glass windows at a local restaurant with clear glass for filming during a Yellowstone fight scene. “We put in tempered glass and they broke it out three times,” says project manager, Cortney Bergeson. “They repeatedly pulled a guy through a window. We’d run up and replace it every time they broke it out. The next day, we went and put all the old windows back in.”
Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce director Al Mitchell believes the production of Yellowstone has offered good exposure and economic stimulation for the surrounding community. “It’s certainly been good for the economy,” Mitchell said. “It’s pumping money into the economy up and down the valley. It’s providing jobs and lots of revenue for the community. And it’s kind of fun to have something going on that can divert our attention away from the world of COVID for a little while.”
When the state enacted the current incentive, productions came. I hired a ton of construction people, bought thousands of dollars’ worth of props from businesses in Livingston, Lincoln, Butte, Emigrant, Dupuyer, in Browning. This was really all across Montana. We filmed towns big and small. I’m really riding the wave of the tax incentive. 2021 is already going to be busier than 2020.
Film productions are known to spend considerable amounts on materials and equipment rentals. That’s a fact that Martin Fahrney can attest to. Fahrney is owner of Waste Less Works in Missoula. Yellowstone brought his company significant business. “My experience with the Yellowstone crew was easy and they paid me and my crew really well. They needed materials for an explosion scene and so my company got paid for rubble. It was easy, timely and overall a great experience. As more film comes to Montana, I can see a real benefit for my company to continue to provide or rent materials to these productions.“
Specifically, here in the Bitterroot we felt the significant presence of Yellowstone TV series 2020. That production put a huge amount of revenue in pockets of individuals who own short term rentals and area hotel owners. The occupancy was way up and activity at local businesses was booming!
Butte resident, Rob Cox, who worked as a location manager on recent 2020 film production says, “We were hiring people from all over town. We spent, I think, $3 million in three weeks. So, when there are five productions in town and we were the low-budget one, that’s millions and millions and millions of dollars that get poured into the local economy.”
“A couple months ago some people scouting for the show were in here and asking me ‘do you mind if we take pictures’ and looking around,” Brenda Hallas, owner of Missoula’s Ruby’s Cafe recalled. The show filmed for an entire day in October at the diner. They then hired a local cleaning crew to scour the whole restaurant and remove all the fake blood the next day. “I do have to say they were incredible to work with,” Hallas said. “I cannot tell you a negative. They were so professional. They were just Johnny-on-the-spot with immediate responses.”
In the early fall of 2020, Ted Ackerman was looking forward to a hotelier's typical monotony of shoulder season. Then a stream of movie productions started appearing in Butte. "In the middle of what's generally the slowest time of the year, we were suddenly slammed! We were more or less full for 8 straight weeks," says Ackerman. "Not that I was complaining. It was the same for all the hotels around here. If you were simply passing through and looking for a bed for the night, well...good luck."