Q&A: Sneaky Big Productions CEO discusses Arizona film, tax credit and impact on economy


As an effort picks up steam to gather signatures seeking an Arizona film tax incentive program --- one proponents believe could provide a $7 billion shot in the arm to public education and infrastructure --- a Scottsdale film production company says they support the initiative.

The Arizona Entertainment Industry Act envisions an income tax credit program for film production companies whereas a company making an investment of $500,000 would be provided a tax credit equal to 25% of the base investment.

To better understand the industry and how a tax-incentive program could help bolster the Arizona economy, Independent Newsmedia reached out to Marianne Guenther, CEO of Sneaky Big Productions, which is based in north Scottsdale.

Encompassing more than 15,000 square feet, Sneaky Big Productions’ facility is one of the most extensive, most technologically advanced production facilities in the nation, officials there say.

This is what Ms. Guenther had to say about Arizona film, the potential for a tax-credit program and the potential impacts that effort could have on the state economy:

•Would an Arizona film tax credit be a good thing for the state of Arizona?

We are a supporter of a film tax initiative in Arizona. There is the value of local businesses and production staff being hired for the projects, image and promotion for the state, as well as the excitement some productions create for residents and visitors.

Film tax credits are basically incentives for movie and television production companies to produce their work in a particular state. They receive money back from that state for working there. In turn, they could be required to use local businesses on their production, bringing in dollars to the state. It’s also a tool the state can use for promotion and recruitment.

•Why are tax incentives so effective in helping to spur new industries here in Arizona?

Arizona did have film tax incentives from 2006 to 2010, bringing in about $110 million to the state. There is currently a push to put an Arizona Film Tax Credit Initiative on the state ballot in November 2020, which we support.

•How can film in Arizona be a boon to both local and statewide economies?

In the 2020 ballot initiative, production companies would be required to invest at least $500,000 in the state to receive the tax credit. That usually involves the hiring of local companies and individuals to work on productions. They would be eligible for additional credits if their productions include a promotion or advertisement for Arizona.

Once the state receives the tax revenue from the investment, 40 percent of it would go to K-12 teacher salaries, 20 percent to public colleges to cover tuition costs for students and 40 percent for state infrastructure projects, including public school construction and maintenance.

•Can you tell me what Sneaky Big Studios hopes to accomplish?

It’s important that Arizona competes with other states for production opportunities so some of that revenue can be realized in Arizona. It’s potential revenue for local businesses and individuals, it’s good for the promotion of our state and the tax revenue can benefit schools and infrastructure.