It's much simpler than that - Colorado doesn't pay people to film in Colorado. Your controversial "ZOMG snowflakes are coming" film incentive program has a whopping $750k to refund 20% of a film's in-state expenses but only if a majority of cast and crew from Colorado. Do the numbers with me. My buddy was crew on 12 strong. They filmed in New Mexico for 6 weeks. In those 6 weeks they burned $35m. At six shooting days per week, they spent about a million dollars a day. 20% of a million dollars is $200k; Colorado's entire film budget is exhausted after three and a half days of filming. And 12 strong is a cheap-ass movie. Compare and contrast: Northern Ireland paid HBO $2m a season for them to shoot Game of Thrones there.
Here's the reality of the situation: the United States is the only indigenous market in the world to receive zero federal funding for film and television products. If you can play Points Bingo in Canada you can basically get the Canadians to pay for your entire project. I know a guy who was DIT on Tron and they insisted he use local crew. He didn't want local crew because - no offense - they're completely incompetent in all things at all times. He wanted to cut his own salary in order to carve out the difference between "someone he knew" and "local crew" and was told by the producers in no uncertain terms that the financial incentive for using a Canadian video assistant was greater than the salary of his entire department.
Back in 2001, 2002, Bill Richardson invited Peter Dekom out from Hollywood to help New Mexico come up with a "winning" film incentive program. Dekom wrote a long memorandum that basically said "you can do this, this, this, this or this" and Bill Richardson said "great, let's do ALL OF THAT. This caused a massive rush of production to New Mexico - NM authorizes up to $50m a year in production incentives - that's $50m out of a $7b budget, compare to $750k out of $30b for Colorado - such that NM currently owes $250m to filmmakers because they don't have the budget to pay back what they promised.
But NM built studios. And NM attracted rental houses. And NM made it easy for California filmmakers to establish residency in NM - lower taxes, access to film incentives, and you can keep renting in California like you always have. I know three people who have nice ranches around Santa Fe where they live where they can, and shitty apartments in Hollywood where they have to. Two of 'em have never even filmed in NM. So NM isn't likely to renege on their payments. Unlike Michigan. Which created a $6m incentive program, structured it first-in first-out, didn't have the money to pay $12m in incentives and caused three production companies to go bankrupt. Thus, nobody films in Michigan anymore because they're a bunch of welchers that will blow up your company.
Of the 100 top-grossing movies released in 2017, only 10 were produced in California, according to Film L.A., which tracks production locations. Twenty filmed in Canada. Fifteen apiece went to the U.K. and Georgia, where so many productions have moved that locals call their state “Y’allywood.”
New Mexico has drawn films like Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule” and the Western hit “Hell or High Water,” but it has had even better luck attracting television shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Longmire.”
Netflix Inc. announced in October it would open a new production studio in Albuquerque, with commitments to spend $1 billion in its first decade in the state. New Mexico and the city gave Netflix $14.5 million in incentives toward the project, under a separate credit program. Netflix declined to comment on its studio plans.
And even that isn't enough. I know a production company - A-list stars, A-list talent, marquee budget - that rewrote a script that was set in New Mexico so they could shoot it in London. The dragon my buddies chase every now and then is Film Emirates, which will pay 100% of your budget, up to $6m, if you film in the Emirates... and get past their censors. So. If you can make a low-budg sci fi film that doesn't upset Allah, you don't even have to find the money for it. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has succeeded. Doesn't mean people don't try.
So I know everyone wants to believe that somehow film studios are motivated by morals or some pablum shit like that but I mean, abortion is the least of a woman's worries in the Emirates.. Georgia? A woman can have a cold beer and flirt at the end of a long day. Dubai? nobody can drink and a woman can't even fucking drive a car. yet there's Tom Cruise, on the side of the Burj Khalifa.
But Dubai recently built the largest soundstage in the Middle East — 50,000 square feet, which can be split into two 25,000-sq.-ft. facilities, designed and built by Los Angeles-based studio Bastien and Associates — plus two water tanks for shooting.
There is an additional 15,000-sq.-ft. soundstage for TV, featuring a large greenscreen from Stargate Studios, which in December 2012 partnered with broadcaster MBC to open a virtual studio. And Dubai has a Deluxe Studios post-production outpost.
But not all subject material is suitable to be shot in Dubai, still a conservative Muslim country. The racy “Sex and the City 2,” which featured a storyline set in Dubai, had to move its shoot to Morocco after being turned down by both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
But if there’s no religious issue with a pic’s topic, Dubai will bend over backward for producers. For “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” 10 kilometers of steel fences were removed from around highways in the desert overnight to accommodate director Brad Bird.