Fayetteville Council endorses $500,000 handout for TV series | Arkansas Blog

Fayetteville Council endorses $500,000 handout for TV series


HBO SERIES: Believed to be the target of Fayetteville subsidy approved Tuesday night.
  • HBO SERIES: Believed to be the target of Fayetteville subsidy approved Tuesday night.
The Fayetteville Flyer reports that the Fayetteville City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday night in favor of giving up to $500,000 over two years to subsidize filming of a season of a TV show in Fayetteville.

The handout, which would be finalized later, has been sold as an economic stimulus. The program is said to have a $70 million budget that will include some local temporary jobs as well as purchasing of supplies locally.

The series has not been identified, but it's believed to be the third season of HBO's "True Detective," the creation of a Nic Pizzolato, a UA writing program alum.  It's been reported previously that it would be made in the Ozarks and star Mahershala Ali in a story about a crime in the Ozarks, played out over three time periods. Ali will play State Police detective from Northwest Arkansas.

The council was told that one other city was competing for the series.

Arkansas Film Commissioner Chris Crane told the Council the production would make Arkansas a character in the series, not, according to the Flyer account, "a caricature to be portrayed with stereotypes that would paint a negative picture." (Sounds like it will be highly fictionalized, then.)

Promoters said direct tax benefits would repay money taken from city reserves to give to producers. One estimated $899,000 in direct sales tax revenue. The city sales tax is 2 percent on the dollar. That means a prediction of $45 million in taxable local sales. But the Flyer article quotes a prediction of $19 million in expenditures. There'd also be lodging and meals and shopping.

From the Flyer:

A representative from Fayetteville’s Rockhill Studios said the growth of the city’s ability to handle film productions has been slow, but steady and that Fayetteville is now in a position (from a standpoint of talent and facilities) to take on a production of the magnitude of this particular project. She said this project is a great opportunity to capitalize and expand upon that growth.

City Council members Marsh and Petty said the expected direct impact is very conservative, and that the numbers presented will easily create a return on investment that is too great to turn away.
Major research has concluded that film industry incentives don't produce lasting job creation in places that have tried it, but perhaps Fayetteville will break the pattern.

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