Production Incentives: A Legislative & Administrative Update

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Production incentives have a real impact on the bottom line of not only production companies (film, television and video games), but also on taxpayers who take advantage of these incentives as a state and local tax mitigation strategy. Hear the latest updates on recent legislative and administrative changes. These incentives also significantly affect the selection of filming locations.
The types of benefits are complex and ever-evolving, requiring practitioners to be up to speed to effectively counsel clients on these benefits. Learning about this topic will enable practitioners to positively impact their clients’ return on investment and enable practitioners to educate clients on how to access cash flow and capital through the trading and monetization of these benefits.
Specifically, our panelists will discuss the current status of the Illinois tax credit, the addition of regulations for the U.S. Virgin Islands production incentive.  We will also hear about the latest legislative proposals in states such as Florida.
Educational Objectives:
• Gain an understanding of the production incentive landscape, including the various incentives by locality
• Know how productions can maximize incentives to improve their financial results
• Know the recent changes in the production incentive market place with updates on pricing in hot markets
• See changes on the horizon that may change the competitive dynamic across jurisdictions
• Know how production incentives are recognized through transfers, grants and returns, including how diverse taxpayers access and utilize incentives
Who would benefit most from attending the proposed webinar?
CPAs, CFOs, tax attorneys, entertainment attorneys, transactional attorneys



Stephen Weizenecker is a partner in the Atlanta office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP where he is a member of the firm’s Corporate Department and Entertainment, Media and Sports Practice Group. Mr. Weizenecker focuses his practice on entertainment-related business including tax incentives, financing, mergers, acquisitions and intellectual property matters for film and television industry clients. 

In addition to being a member of the Georgia Governor’s Advisory Commission on Film Music and Digital Entertainment, Mr. Weizenecker is member of numerous professional organizations. He serves on the Governing Committee of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Forum on Sports and Entertainment Industries and is the former Editor-in-Chief of the ABA’s Entertainment and Sports Lawyer publication. He is also Chair of the Entertainment and Sports Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia. 

Mr. Weizenecker has been listed as a Rising Star for Super Lawyers for multiple years. A noted author, he has written several articles for the ABA’s Entertainment and Sports Law Journal. Mr. Weizenecker is a 1995 graduate of Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he earned his J.D., cum laude. He is a 1990 graduate of Emory University, where he completed his undergraduate education.


Joe Bessacini is Vice President, Film & Production Incentives at Cast & Crew Entertainment Services.


Christine Dudley joined the Illinois Department of Commerce as Deputy Director of the Office of Film in February 2015. As Deputy Director, Chris leads the team of industry experts to promote Illinois as a destination for world class film production and to provide location, housing, and tax credit support for film, television and commercial advertising productions throughout the State.

Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Chris worked as an independent consultant, providing strategic planning and tactical support to a wide variety of corporate and political clients, including public affairs; event planning; grassroots engagement; management, compliance, earned and paid media strategies. Chris also served in lead management roles throughout her career including Special Assistant to U.S. Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, Executive Director for the Illinois Republican Party, and Midwest Regional Political Director for the Republican National Committee. She also worked in management roles for Congressmen Fred Grandy, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, and State Senator Karen McConnaughay.
Chris is an alumni of the television program Beyond Our Control, which received a Hugo Award from the Chicago International Film Festival. She also served as a spokesperson at events and on various shows, including television’s Chicago Tonight and radio’s Beyond the Beltway.

Chris currently serves on Senator Mark Kirk’s Women's Advisory Board, as Treasurer for Chicago Women in Government Relations, and as a member of Maggie's List. She also served on the Boards of Directors for the Illinois Arts Council, Shattered Globe Theatre, and the Government Assistance Program (GAP).
In recognition of her dedication to preparing women for government and public policy positions, Chris received the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series National Coalition Iron Jawed Angel Award, and she was recognized amongst the Princeton Illinois’ Freedom House Gallery of Hero and Heroines. Chris attended Indiana University and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.


Tobi Ives began her career in the industry in the late nineties working in television commercial production in Las Vegas, Nevada. With the burgeoning of the industry in New Mexico, she segued back into the industry in 2002 after a stint as an Art Consultant. Tobi joined the team at the Film Office, located in Santa Fe, in 2005. Having played a key role in several aspects of the film office over the years including policy development, Tobi currently now manages the Refundable Film Production Tax Credit Program. Ms. Ives graduated with honors from Indiana University in both Cultural Anthropology and Studio Fine Arts.


Louisiana native Christopher Stelly joined Louisiana’s fledgling entertainment office in 2004. He quickly established a leading role in the film industry’s exponential growth over the next few years. When Stelly was appointed Director of Film and Television in 2007, Louisiana’s motion picture tax incentive program was showing signs of growth. He was instrumental in increasing the activity in the program exponentially and each successive year of his tenure, motion picture production continued to exceed the preceding year. In addition to administering Louisiana’s progressive and innovative tax credit program, he has become an invaluable technical asset to entertainment companies seeking to produce and to establish new businesses in the state. He constantly promotes Louisiana as the best state in the nation for entertainment industry development.


He was named interim Executive Director of Louisiana Entertainment, officially the Louisiana Office of Entertainment Industry Development, in July 2011 and was appointed in February of 2012 to the position permanently. He currently leads a team of 7 business development and entertainment industry professionals. Stelly is committed to educating community leaders and citizens about entertainment development opportunities, working closely with industry allies and economic development partners throughout the state to attract and nurture entertainment businesses.


Stelly’s tireless stewardship of Louisiana’s incentive programs and his business development efforts led to tremendous growth in motion picture infrastructure statewide. State‐of‐the‐art facilities such as Celtic Media Centre in Baton Rouge, Millenium Studios in Shreveport and Second Line Stages and Big Easy Studios in New Orleans as well as The Ranch in St. Bernard Parish opened under his tenure. Louisiana now boasts nearly half a million square feet of pre‐production and production space in six sound stage facilities around the state, along with nearly every other ancillary service a production could require – from high‐end makeup and prop houses to business and payroll services to state‐of‐the‐art special effects studios and more. Businesses like Pixel Magic, Digital FX, Worldwide FX, Illusion Industries, Dumonde FX, Factory VFX and many others now provide well‐paid, highly skilled jobs to Louisiana residents.


Prior to joining the staff of Louisiana Entertainment, Stelly served for six years in the Office of then‐Governor Mike Foster. He holds a joint bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Political Science from Louisiana State University and makes his home in Baton Rouge with his wife Lindsey, three children, Alexander, Isabella, Sophia and their dog, Chewbacca (a Scottish Terrier that was rescued from a local pound).