"True Detective," Season Three, Episode One

Tax rebates, tax credits and other incentives for film companies to come make their movies in Arkansas are nothing new; it was in 2009 that the state legislature passed the Digital Product and Motion Picture Industry Development Act. (In film freak terms, that’s time enough for “Jennifer’s Body” to have completed its full transformation from “certified rotten box office flop” to “feminist horror cornerstone and prophetic harbinger of the #MeToo era.”) But that 2009 bill got a boost in 2021 with Act 517, which gives incentives to productions that spends money or hires crew members from within a county that the Arkansas Economic Development Commission deems economically distressed, and also lifts incentives for certain production costs from 20% to 25%, tacking on an additional 5% incentive if the production is a “multi-project” endeavor like a TV series. Here’s the full bill. 

That’s good news for organizations like the Arkansas Cinema Society which, in addition to film programming like the annual Filmland fest and educational programs like the Filmmaking Lab for Teen Girls, has pushed for legislation and infrastructure that make it more appealing for companies to make movies in The Natural State. (That is, if they can get past our retrograde politics.) It’s good news for the broader economy, too, state film industry advocates say, citing an estimated 1,000 jobs and $100 million economic impact rippling out from the filming of the third season of HBO’s “True Detective” in Northwest Arkansas in 2018.


“Arkansas needs to be competitive with our neighboring states, and this bill is a step in the right direction,” said state Senator Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy), who sponsored the bill along with Rep. Charlene Fite (R-District 24). “The proof is in the numbers, and we’ve seen the economic development data from other states on how impactful the film and television industry can be to local economies. It’s important to now gather the necessary data in Arkansas and work with AEDC and ACS to continue to make progress for our state.”

“The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has done a lot to bring film to the table as a tool for economic development and tourism,” Arkansas Cinema Society executive director Kathryn Tucker said in a press release. “States like Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Alabama have seen their film economies boom because of similar film incentives. This latest bill supports local production companies and makes us more competitive with surrounding Southern states when trying to recruit films to shoot in Arkansas which creates more, better paying jobs for Arkansas filmmakers.”