Bringing the film industry back to Arizona?

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- You may have noticed that Arizona was not well-represented at the Oscars Sunday night.

Local film advocates say they know why and they're hoping to do something about it.

There's some new legislation pending at the state Capitol.

It's not the first time Arizona lawmakers have proposed a bill offering film incentives, but this one shows promise, according to local film advocates who say Arizona is losing out on millions of dollars.

Arizona's iconic scenery was made for the silver screen, but nowadays movies set in the desert usually aren't filmed in ours.

"They'll usually come in here for a few days, take some background shots, cactus, Grand Canyon, and then they shoot films in other states," said John Stewart with the Arizona Film & Media Coalition.

Arizona film industry advocates say Disney's "The Lone Ranger" is a perfect example of our state missing out on big blockbuster money -- shot mostly in California, New Mexico and Utah.

Or how about "Spare Parts" -- an uplifting story of Valley high school teens.

"Wonderful, wonderful story," Stewart said. "They were here for a couple days and shot the majority of it in New Mexico.

Why? Film incentives. Every surrounding state has them. Arizona doesn't.

A bill pending in the Arizona House of Representatives would change that -- offering a tax break to productions spending $250,000 or more annually, capping that incentive at $30 million per year or $10 million for a single project.

Something that would help revive Arizona's fledgling film industry.

"My oldest son, Brian, graduated from SC film and photography and decided, 'Hey, Dad, let's build a studio,'" said Floyd Bannister, who owns Loft 19 Studios.

"We had Kurt Warner here for a Super Bowl commercial," Bannister said.

He said film incentives would bring back jobs -- thousands of them -- that right now sit just beyond our borders.

"Well, I'm hoping that we can get a lot more people in this studio working hard because I know there's a lot of creative people in this state," Bannister said.

Critics of film incentives are always worried about unintended consequences -- like giving tax breaks to pornography -- but this bill would specifically exclude porn.

It also specifies that all incentive-eligible money has to stay in this state.