Missouri Film Office cut from state budget

The office assisted in production of Oscar-nominated films 'Up in the Air' and 'Winter's Bone.'

The Missouri Film Office closed Thursday after Gov. Jay Nixon cut its state funding.

The office was established in 1983 as a resource for production companies looking to film in the state. Its employees provided companies with information about local film crews, tax credits and other incentives to film in Missouri.

"As you may know, this is the last day of existence for the Missouri Film Office," director Jerry Jones said in a letter Thursday. "It began in 1983 and since then has been responsible for bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in production revenue to the state, plus immeasurable worldwide publicity."

The office assisted in the production of two Oscar-nominated movies: "Up in the Air," which was filmed in St. Louis, and "Winter's Bone," filmed in southern Missouri.

The General Assembly voted to provide $150,000 to fund the office after Nixon cut it out of his proposed budget in January. When approving the budget, Nixon cut the funding again.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a member of the Missouri Film Commission Board, said he was disappointed in the governor's lack of support for the office.

"It's unfortunate the governor doesn't support the film industry in the state of Missouri even though the General Assembly was supportive of it," he said.

Schaefer said the state will suffer economically due to the loss of film production.

"When you have film production going on, whether it be 'Up in the Air' or 'Winter's Bone' or a smaller film, you get a lot of local economic activity as a result of that," he said.

Missouri is one of a very small number of states that will not have an office of this type.

"We know that, to many of you, this industry is your livelihood, and while Missouri becomes one of just a few states to have no film office, (assistant director) Andrea (Sporcic) and I both sincerely hope that the production industry here will overcome this setback and become thriving and vibrant," Jones said.

Schaefer said the state might also lose business from smaller productions.

"In addition to some of the films that are done for entertainment, the film office was also very helpful with commercial film productions for industries or associations, so a lot of smaller productions will also suffer," he said.

The salaries of the office's two employees, Jones and Sporcic, were paid by MU.

The functions of the office will be reallocated to the Division of Tourism, according to a statement by Sporcic.

"It has been my great pleasure to work as the assistant director for the last six years," she said in the statement. "I am very proud to have been a part of the many movies, TV segments and commercials shot in our beautiful state."

Cutting the office will save the state $175,000.

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