On Jan. 30, the Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill that could allow for a major motion picture company to be established in Jackson.
With recent productions such as “The Help,” “The Historian” and “Blackbird” taking the stage in Mississippi, film producer and potential investor Adam Rosenfelt has taken notice of the state’s money-making potential.
According to clarionledger.com, Rosenfelt and his wife fell in love with the Mississippi Gulf Coast when they would often leave their New Orleans home to go on long car rides in order to soothe the cries of their infant son. The young family usually ended up in Bay St. Louis or Pass Christian and were awestruck by the beauty of the state.
“I had the concept of a new methodology for how films should be financed and started a little research on Mississippi and realized the state has a desire to increase its foothold in the business,” Rosenfelt said.
Having a permanent movie studio establishment would provide both tax incentives for the state and financial incentives for producers according to rankinledger.com. Approved companies would agree to spend $100 million, producing at least three films a year with at least 50 percent spent in Mississippi.
The state would take 10 percent of the companies profit but would guarantee to compensate them up to 75 percent of whatever the company lost should the movie fail.
Recent Southern Miss graduate Scarlett Jones remarked on the potential benefits that a movie studio in Mississippi would bring despite the apparent risk.
“A movie studio in Mississippi is a neat way to create local jobs,” Jones said. “Not only would it create permanent positions but the state’s economy would benefit from receiving 10 percent of a film’s profits.”
“While the initial start up investment seems risky, Mississippi has a history of commercially successful films. With a movie studio located here, many more successful films could be made,” she said.
Not only could a movie studio help to instill more permanent job security for individuals pursuing film, but it would also help to foster a greater appreciation for the arts in public schools across the state.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CPBB), Mississippi art programs are often the first ones to be placed on the chopping block.
Gov. Phil Bryant recommended a 15 percent cut to the Arts Commission in his budget proposal in 2012 according to mpbonline.org. It was a regrettable yet necessary move according to Bryant.
“The Mississippi Arts Commission has been very aggressive in creating an endowment. We’ve been raising money in the private sector,” Bryant said. “I hope that someday we’ll be able to offset cuts and in the good years have reserves, just like the state budget.”
Southern Miss prides itself on being the only institution within Mississippi, and one of only a dozen universities in America, to hold accreditation in all four fine arts emphasis areas: art, dance, theater and music.
Yet with the finalities of the studio still up for debate, it may still be several years before USM graduates can possibly use their art degrees in the state in which they earned them.