GUEST EDITORIAL FROM THE DESK OF
REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD LINDSEY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Rep. Richard Lindsey
March 24, 2009
In light of this morningís 11:00 ceremony where Governor
Riley will sign into law the Alabama Entertainment
Industry Incentive Act of 2009, Representative Richard
Lindsey offers the following background and insight
regarding his legislation.
The Business of
Entertainment is Alabamaís Next Great Opportunity
Amidst the difficulties of our legislative process
something spectacular has happened. It was something
that both the House and Senate agreed upon and believe
it or not, they did so unanimously. To make things even
better, the governor is in strong support and he will
sign the related legislation into law.
So what is it that we all agreed upon? Itís a package of
business incentives that will allow Alabama to compete
with other states enjoying the enormous profits of the
In recent years, Louisiana has enjoyed over a billion
dollar state surplus that is attributed to the
entertainment industry. Successes like that have been a
motivating factor, but the incentives legislation is
just the start of a longer process that, if done right,
could result in similar revenue here in Alabama.
Over the past five years, many individuals have been
critical to the success of the legislation, but to me,
one person stands out. In 2004, at the request of an
investment group, a veteran of the entertainment
industry made a trip from Los Angeles to Alabama. His
name is Daniel Wheatcroft, and as President of Shoot to
Thrill Productions, his task was to analyze their
potential investment for a motion picture project.
Upon meeting, he told me that he was impressed by
Alabamaís variety of locations, dedicated workforce,
weather conducive to 365 days of shooting, and our first
rate education system. He was truly incredulous as to
why this state was not pursuing his industry.
Those who are experienced in the entertainment industry
know that education is the key, and that most of the
creative forces working in the industry come from states
that have programs to retain their intellectual property
and provide a place to work for the students they
educate. I was pleased that a Cherokee County cotton
farmer like me would have so much in common with a
Hollywood entertainment executive.
As Chairman of Alabamaís Education Finance and
Appropriations Committee, I had a high level of interest
in this emphasis on education and how it impacts
workforce development. Through this relationship, I
began to explore the workforce created by the industry.
There are the obvious jobs of producers, actors,
directors and writers, but something that I didnít
expect is that over 80% of a production workforce is
made up of accountants, attorneys, carpenters,
electricians, computer technicians, artists, caterers,
investors, and others. The industry impacts a workforce
more varied than any I have seen. I knew we were on to
something very beneficial to our state as we could
easily modify our existing curriculum to match this
The major stumbling block was that Alabama had no
incentives in place. Since the industry mandates
producers to restrict production to only those states
that had incentives, Alabama was excluded from
consideration. The other problem was that Alabama had
no direct contacts with the industry.
Thankfully Wheatcroft had those contacts and knew how to
navigate us through the industry waters. That began our
five-year alliance that brought legislation and industry
to work together to refine a bill that works for all
parties and all 67 Alabama counties.
In the past month, the Film Office recently moved from
the Alabama Development Office to the Travel and Tourism
Office. It is now under the competent jurisdiction of
Director Lee Sentell. I think that Lee would agree that
there is much work to be done, but I know he is up to
the task. I have advised him of the great importance to
maintain the close connection with Los Angeles.
It is an exciting time for Alabamaís entertainment
industry, and I thank the legislators and supportive
individuals from all over Alabama who have assisted.
Because we all want to make sure itís done right, I
commit to staying in touch with Director Sentell and the