'Snowbate' revived for filmmakers

A Minnesota state Senate committee Monday approved a $10 million fund to boost filmmaking in the state.

The fund is a revival of the popular "Snowbate" program which is credited with the movie boom in the state about 20 years ago. The program spurred filmmaking in the state in the 1990s and early-2000s, but was later dropped from the state budget.

The bill approved by the committee would provide a rebate for up to 25 percent of production costs for projects made outside the metro area, and 20 percent within the metro. The bill now goes to the Senate Finance Committee.

Dan Satorius, a film producer and lawyer, told the Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee that the business is expanding, but not here.

"Minnesota is capturing fewer of these productions that they could. Financing is the critical issue to all productions," Satorius said.

Lucinda Winter, Minnesota Film and Television Board executive director, testified the business is expanding.

"It's film, it's TV. It's everything you see on your phone. It's commercials, It's the digital monitors at the airport," Winter said. "All of this is being made and about $200 million worth of this is being made in Minnesota every year."

Winter argues Minnesota could get more of that business if it could compete with the kinds of subsidies and tax credits offered by other states. The bill now goes to the Senate finance committee.