JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A state budget cut proposal could slow the Mississippi film industry in coming years.
In Governor Phil Bryant’s executive budget recommendation for the 2018 fiscal year, he proposes to allow the motion picture rebate incentive program to expire in July.
The program gives a 25% cash rebate back to projects that spend more than $50,000 in the state.
Founder of The Chosen Productions and Jackson Native Essence Wallace hopes the incentive is renewed.
She’s premiering her first complete project in the capital city next week at the historic Alamo Theatre on Farrish Street.
“I think in Mississippi it seems like the arts is just like something fun to do. It’s not necessarily considered a profession,” Wallace said.
The short film is called Judgement Day.
It follows the lives of a young black man and the white police officer who kills him.
Wallace says she wrote the script in response to social justice conflicts across the country, “I‘ve just always felt that like my craft is God’s way of giving me a voice. I was dealing with anger and emotions, and I like just started praying about it. And the story came to my mind. It was actually bigger than what we produced.”
Judgement Day was filmed in Jackson with basically no budget.
But, Wallace’s goal is to get the script picked up by a studio and turn it into a series.
That’s why the film incentive program is important for her.
“It catapults business period. It brings tourists. It brings events. Every single career you can think of is needed on a film set…My goal has always been to bring it back home, because we have so much talent here,” Wallace said.
Wallace hopes that Judgement Day is just the first step of many to sustaining a strong film industry in Mississippi.
It premieres at the Alamo Theatre on Monday. It begins at 7:30 p.m., followed by a question and answer session.
You can find tickets here.