ANCHORAGE - State officials say a tax credit program helped draw film productions large and small to Alaska this year.
The most notable was the Drew Barrymore movie "Everybody Loves Whales," which was shot around Anchorage for three months.
The Legislature approved the tax credit of up to 44 percent in 2008 to boost the state's entertainment industry. In the past, productions often used other locations to portray Alaska.
"I think the incentive is working as it was intended," Wanetta Ayers, the director of the Division of Economic Development, told KTUU-TV.
Sen. Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, sponsored the bill that created the incentive and plans to introduce legislation in the coming session that would extend it for another 10 years.
"With the number of productions, TV and film, and the number of people hired, this is quite successful and we want to keep it going," he said.
KTUU reported that according to the Alaska Film Office, the TV show "Ice Road Truckers" spent $1.1 million in Alaska, and the state awarded the production $393,000 in tax credits. The first season of "Alaska State Troopers" received more than $30,000, and Season 6 of "Deadliest Catch" pulled in $584,000.
Russ Weston, who has worked in television production for more than 40 years, said the incentive program is great, but it should require companies to hire locally. As the industry grows in the state it should become easier for outside companies to do that.
KTUU says about 30 productions have pre-qualified for the tax credit.
"Sarah Palin's Alaska," on TLC, is not one of them.
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