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Film industry rep tells lawmakers Kentucky remains ripe for more movies

Film and TV Producer Kristi Kilday testifies regarding Kentucky's file industry incentives
Stu Johnson
Film and TV Producer Kristi Kilday testifies regarding Kentucky's film industry incentives. To her left is Louisville Democratic Representative Daniel Grossberg and to her right a film industry associate.

Cameras are rolling in some central Kentucky communities for the latest film to be shot in the Commonwealth. A panel of state lawmakers got an update on Hollywood in the Bluegrass last week.

The legislative committee meeting primarily focused on how state incentives are a draw for filmmakers. Film and TV Producer Kristi Kilday said $10 million have been allocated so far in 2024 and that figure was $55 million last year. Kilday sees only an upward trend for more filmmaking in Kentucky.

“We’ll be seeing more film sets around town but the most important thing is we’re gonna see more economic development and economic impact from the industry coming to Kentucky,” said Kilday.

Kilday said spending in motels, restaurants, clothing shops and other retailers means pumping around $250,000 daily into a local economy. The current film, a romantic drama, is being shot in Mercer and Boyle Counties.

Kilday noted the state’s film industry incentive program is one of the best in the country. And she told the group of representatives the timing could be just right.

“We had two strikes last year that devastated our industry. The actors and the writers. From the smallest independent producer up to the biggest distributor, everybody is looking for this incentive and to come and be able to spend money wisely, in an environment that supports them,” said Kilday.

Kilday said too many people in the industry have thought of Kentucky as, quote, “just horses and grass.” She said the word is getting out about other natural attractions, the lakes and mountains of the Commonwealth.

Depending on the location, Kilday said the Kentucky film incentives mean either 30 or 35 cents on each dollar spent here. She noted after film companies send their spending information to the State, a check is cut for that percentage amount. Kilday added there is still a need for further marketing, but also infrastructure improvements. The film producer said too many items for movie making are still purchased outside the state. During the legislative committee meeting, a few lawmakers pitched ideas. Richmond Representative Deanna Frazier Gordon said a movie about Cassius Clay and White Hall would make for a great film. Frazier Gordon said tourism officials already have the actor in mind to play Clay, Lexington-born George Clooney.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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