KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City got some love from Hollywood earlier this year.
HBO’s smash hit “The Last of Us” featured Kansas City in episodes 4 and 5. While some establishing shots were filmed in Kansas City, scenes with the show’s stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey were filmed in Alberta, Canada.
“We do well in Kansas City, but we have a vision of being able to do so much better with the help from the state. We need that incentive,” said Steph Shannon, the director of the KC Film Office.
Kansas and Missouri have not had film incentives since 2012 and 2013, respectively. They used to have legislation, but in Missouri, for example, it sunset in 2013.
The last major motion picture to be shot in Missouri was the Oscar nominated film “Gone Girl,” which was primarily filmed in Cape Girardeau. However, Shannon hopes to bring major studio productions back.
“We’re so underseen on screen.” In 2016, she helped launch a film incentive just for Kansas City, which helped. It attracted Netflix’s “Queer Eye” for its third and fourth seasons, as well as a new reality show, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning,” produced by Amy Poehler set to come out this spring.
The city’s incentive includes a 10% rebate, but it has to be earned. For instance, a project has to come to Kansas City and spend a certain amount of money, hire a certain number of locals, give back to the community, put a testimonial video together, and thank the city in the project’s credits.
“In our case, we enacted something here because we didn’t have state incentives, and we wanted a foot in the door,” added Shannon, who estimates Missouri’s lost anywhere from $8 million to $1 billion since 2017 because of a lack of incentives.
Without any help from the Missouri and Kansas Legislatures, it means losing big productions to places like Georgia and Oklahoma, the latter of which offers production companies anywhere from a 20-38% rebate.
“We just want to be on a level playing field with other states and right now we’re not,” said State Sen. Denny Hoskins, a Republican from District 21 which covers Caldwell, Carroll, Howard, Johnson, Lafayette, Livingston, Ray, and Saline counties.
His bill, Senate Bill 94, would give production companies a 20% tax credit with an extra 5-10% if certain conditions are met.
He believes the reason a bill pertaining to incentives for production companies has not passed is because of concern over tax credits from his colleagues. But Oklahoma’s seen a positive return on investment for its incentives, thanks to the Paramount+ show “Tulsa King” starring Sylvester Stallone, as well as Apple’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” with Leonardo DiCaprio.
“I think many of my colleagues have seen what other states have done,” he said.
Which hopefully means keeping Missouri and Kansas in the Hollywood spotlight.
Hoskins’ bill passed out of the Senate last week. It’s now waiting to be referred to a House committee. This is the farthest a bill focused on film incentives has gone in the last 10 years.