Alaska editorial: Film incentive law for Alaska deserves standing ovation

Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2008

M aybe now, finally, we'll all get to see Kate Shugak on the silver screen.

Shugak, for those of you who aren't mystery novel fans, is a tough-as-nails but heart-of-gold heroine from the Bush; an all-Alaska character created by all-Alaska author Dana Stabenow, whose novels, set in Alaska, are popular with mystery fans worldwide.

While her book sales have been good, Stabenow could have a lot more money by now if she had sold the movie rights for one of her Kate Shugak novels. So far, though, she has refused.


Because no movie producer would agree to film in Alaska, a negotiating point upon which Stabenow consistently has refused to compromise.

We applaud her loyalty to the 49th state, and we also applaud the Alaska Legislature and Gov. Sarah Palin for recently approving a bill that creates the Alaska Film Incentive Program, and an Alaska Film Office.

The program provides a tax credit, and bonuses for film companies that hire Alaskans, film during the winter and/or film in rural parts of the state. Office staff will manage the program, market Alaska as a filming location, and help film companies coordinate with state businesses and workers.

According to a statement from the bill's sponsor, Sen. Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, similar film programs in other states have attracted millions of dollars worth of business.

"Alaska is one of the most picturesque states in the union, but we are not on producers' radar because we had not had an incentive program," he wrote.

Now we will, and we can only hope the next movie filmed in Alaska includes that wonderfully described scene from Stabenow's "Play with Fire," in which an eagle swoops down and carries off a tourist's obnoxious toy poodle. As Stabenow writes on, "To an eagle, protein is protein, and if it doesn't move out of the way fast enough, it winds up on the eaglets' lunch menu."

This is Alaska, after all, and even though we're courting those big-city folks with their fancy cameras, we must stay true to nature.

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