Phyllis Kahn and Dean Urdahl want Minnesota to invest in the movie business

Categories: Film, Legislature
Paul Battaglia
Rep. Phyllis Kahn advocates for Minnesota ownership in motion pictures, in front of AMMP co-founders Ralph Winter, Robert Schwartz, Denise Gardner, with Rep. Dean Urdahl at right.
In 1995, Hollywood shot nine feature films in Minnesota, spending $128 million on in-state production costs. By 2007, that number had dropped to a single film, and $7 million.

On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis) and Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Action Township), announced their plans to try to bring some of the movie money back.

But they're not just interested in the windfall of production spending. They want Minnesota to invest in movies directly, and when the films do well, to get a cut of the profits.

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Minnesota doesn't have piles of extra money around to spend breaking into the movie business (though the budget forecast is improving), but Kahn and Urdahl's plan offers a funding solution: the half-billion dollar pot of Legacy money.

To court Hollywood and develop the initiative, the two representatives have teamed up with the newly formed Association of Minnesota Motion Pictures, a group of film industry executives with Minnesota ties. The four main players are Robert Schwartz, Ralph Winter, Denise Gardner, and Jane Minton.

Movies flop, of course; they're not inherently safe investments. To guard against risky bets, the AMMP envisions some guidelines to regulate which projects could qualify for state dollars. The group would seek to negotiate multiple-movie deals with studios, guarantee a theatrical release for any movie receiving state funds, and focus mainly on mid-size pictures with budgets of $20 million or less.

Any profits would go right back into the Legacy Arts and Culture fund.

Kahn currently serves as chair of the Legacy Division, which allocates a portion of sales tax revenue to environmental and culture projects across the state. Urdahl held the same position during the 2011-2012 biennium.

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TheConservativeJerk topcommenter

Shouldn’t that money come from the "legacy fund"?Or is that only reserved for a different kind of art

Mike Hahn
Mike Hahn

While Dayton is trying to find new ways to extort money from Minnesotans, Kahn is trying to funnel half a Billion to movie makers. While I understand giving them tax breaks to film here, I'll never understand using tax money to bankroll them.


I don't see this proposal as any different than the privatization schemes that ALEC member corporations concoct to grab public revenue streams for private profit. That it's Hollywood-wannabes trying to grab part of those revenues doesn't make it any better than when the Corrections Corporations of America tries it with private prisons. 

And that this is a grab of  funds many of us voted for only after the Legislature failed to raise and allocate revenue for things we care deeply for--natural areas, recreation, struggling artists and art for marginal communities that can't support the arts, whether by dint of poverty or small populations--makes it even more offensive.

Deeply offensive--but also deeply indicative of the sense of entitlement that the wealthy in this country feel that they have to everything. Please, Minnesota, nope.


we could finally get this flippin metrodome rebuilt if we can only put our pride aside and call kubrick's son and film 2001: a space odyssey 2 in bemidji. personally, i'd like to see taylor lautner in a spacesuit.

Noah Hanson
Noah Hanson

Great, let's gamble our legacy $ on films. Great fiscal management.


another horrible idea from rep. kahn. 

Laura Cederberg
Laura Cederberg

I would watch a movie about or starring Phyllis Kahn!

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