NASHVILLE — Although Tennessee taxpayers help subsidize film and television programs like ABC’s “Nashville” provided they film on location, not all productions get the same treatment.
Producers of the show “Snake Salvation,” about Pentecostal preachers who handle poisonous snakes, filmed in Tennessee, didn’t apply for the incentives, said Stephanie Montgomery, spokeswoman for the National Geographic Channel, which will air the program.
They wouldn’t have received any anyway — reality shows don’t benefit from the credits.
“There are a number of reasons why these shows aren’t incentivized,” said Laura Elkins, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
One reason has to do with economics, she said. Reality shows are inexpensive to produce and usually don’t meet incentive requirements of a $200,000 production cost while filming in the state.
Furthermore, such shows wouldn’t exist without relying on a specific Tennessee location and/or personality, she said.
“It doesn’t make sense to incentivize productions that would be filming in the state whether or not the incentive was available.”
Do ECD officials believe “Nashville,” which received $12.5 million in state taxpayer incentives for its second season, would film in Tennessee regardless of its incentives?
Elkins responded, “That is not an assertion we are familiar with. What we heard advocates of the series say publicly is that it would not make sense to film it anywhere else based on the need to be authentic. That is much, much different than saying it would film here regardless. So, again, the assertion you are making is not one we have heard anyone make.”
According to newly revised ECD guidelines, only feature films, television episodes, television pilots and television commercials with national advertising messages that a national or cable network broadcasts are eligible.
Other programs, including news, sports, concerts, talk shows, music videos and documentaries, like reality shows, also do not qualify.
“Snake Salvation” will feature members of the Tabernacle Church of God in La Follette.