Bob Parsons, the founder of GoDaddy and the Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation, will provide funding for the Arizona Office of Film and Digital Media for the second year in a row, committing more than $300,000 for this fiscal year.
The financial and in-kind contribution will be matched by the Arizona Commerce Authority for the second year in a row. Last year, Parsons and the commerce authority committed more than $250,000.
Video by Jesse A. Millard
“We’ve looked for ways that we can incentivize filmmakers and producers and movies and commercials to be shot in our wonderful state of Arizona, and do it in such a way that it makes sense for the community,” Parsons said Tuesday at his Sneaky Big Studios in Scottsdale. “We have no credits, no tax credits, no general funding to help producers, we have none of that. We’re doing all of this with private initiative, pretty much, and our state film office.”
Before Parsons helped fund Arizona’s Office of Film and Digital Media last year, Arizona was without someone in that role for six years. Many of the local municipalities, like Phoenix, continued to have people in those roles to act as liaisons to try and attract and help filmmakers and producers with productions in Arizona.
The office helps with permitting for productions on city, state, federal and tribal lands in Arizona. Matthew Earl Jones has been the office’s director since last December. Jones, who is the half-brother of James Earl Jones, who is most famous as the voice of Darth Vader, has experience in Hollywood as a producer.
For the first six months of his post, he has been working to inform the film industry that Arizona is a viable option for on-location productions. Tuesday’s announcement of additional funding is confirmation that Arizona is working to be a serious option, he said.
It was also announced that the film office will have two programs to help incentivize filmmakers to come here. The programs include:
Reel Deals: This program will create a list of approved local businesses that will offer discounts to filmmakers who choose to have their production in Arizona. The types of businesses that will give discounts will be hotels, car rentals and many other types of businesses film productions utilize while they’re on location.
The Film Resource Coordinator: A network of volunteers who understand the movie business will be able to help local filmmakers with anything they may need. These volunteers will help productions find talent, along with any other assistance they may need while operating within Arizona’s communities.
“Our goal is to basically, with up front discounts, match a 30 percent tax credit that (filmmakers) get from other states,” Jones said.
Local filmmakers can use these programs too, he mentioned.
Jones said he has vetted this program with producers who would much rather receive these types of discounts up front instead of having to wait for tax credits that don’t come in for sometimes years later.
“The goal is to create a more workable alternative to a tax credit, and not burden the state,” Jones said.
A partnership with both the Arizona State Parks and Trails and the Arizona Department of Public Safety have also been formed to provide free use of state trails for productions.
The announcement was made on the one year anniversary of Parsons’ Sneaky Big Studios, a state-of-the-art production facility in Scottsdale, near Parsons’ Harley-Davidson dealership in Scottsdale.