Representatives want to make Minnesota midwest Hollywood

Legislators are asking for funding to rev up the state’s movie-making.

Jessica Lee

State legislators are teaming up with Hollywood producers to make Minnesota more attractive to filmmakers.

Reps. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, and others Wednesday presented a plan that would invest funds from movies made in Minnesota to bring vendors, talent and tourism to the state.

Kahn said investments would be returned to the state and that Minnesota would have part ownership of the film.

She mentioned major box-office movies like “Fargo” that were filmed in the area with a relatively small film budget yet grossed a large profit that was returned to the Hollywood studios — not Minnesota.

“These pictures did well at the box office, returning millions to its investors — studios such as Warner Brothers, Paramount and Disney,” according to a news release that outlines the proposal.

The plan says Hollywood should share the benefits with Minnesota. If enacted, the state would be repaid the investments needed to make the movie — a partnership that’s rare in the U.S., attorney Denise Gardner said.

The money usually goes from the government to the producers, she said. This plan strays from that tradition.

The newly formed Association of Minnesota Motion Pictures is also pushing the plan. The AMMP is a nonprofit seeking to develop “Minnesota’s economic role in the global motion picture industry,” according to the release.

To fund the movies, AAMP is asking for money from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which allocates money from the state’s Legacy Amendment to fund projects aimed at conserving the state’s culture.

Ralph Winter, a partner of AAMP and a producer of “X-Men,” “Fantastic Four” and “Star Trek,” said Wednesday the plan would benefit the state as well as the world’s film industry.

Winter said when choosing a film’s shooting location, producers look for incentives like access to filming equipment, ability to staff a crew and landscape.

He said it would be great for studios and producers to know they can come to Minnesota and partner with the state — “We are constantly searching for and chasing snow,” he said.

Jane Minton, a former director of Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota, said the state currently has a micro-budget film culture.

She said the plan would create jobs, keep Minnesota competitive and “increase our reputation as a state overall.”