Producing in Portland: A Little Extra Moolah! Oregon Tax Incentives for Indie Films


There is no denying that tax incentives are the backbone of several smaller markets around the country and even the globe. This was on full display at the American Film Market this past fall where states and countries set up vivid booths, threw outlandish and amazing parties (I went to one with a Thai Princess!), and touted their tax incentives and other cost-saving mechanisms. Likewise, the Portland film market is also reliant on a solid tax incentive plan. Today, I am gonna blab about how indie films fit into the tax incentive mix in one of my favorites states, you know it…Oregon.

It’s All About the Rebate

First things first, the Oregon film incentive program operates as a rebate. That means the money is spent, then the rebate is collected once you submit your paperwork to the state film office with proof of your expenditures. So keep that in mind for cash flow purposes – consider when it is most beneficial to file for your rebate. You can only file once.

For all the Indies Out There – it’s called the iOPIF.

Most of my experience is in indie feature films, so I’m pretty familiar with the way the Oregon tax incentive works for indie films and here what you need to know. “I” stands for indigenous. That means that your Director, or Producer or Production Company has to be an Oregon local. You’ll get 20% back on goods and services and 10% back on labor costs. In order to qualify, you need to spend at least $75,000 in the state but no more than 1 million dollars. Don’t worry, if you are lucky enough to be spending more than that, there are other programs out there for you and I plan to cover those in the future. To get the iOPIF rebate, 80% of your cast and crew makeup needs to be Oregon residents. Watch out for those locals who actually live across the river in Washington – keep track of those addresses! They can creep up on you. Also, everyone needs to be on payroll (yes, even the indie crew). If you need a refresher on what makes an employee vs. an independent contractor, look here. Here are a few examples of things you would save on under iOPIF:

  • Gaffer wages – save 10% when paid through payroll
  • Grip and Electric Rentals – save 20% from a local company
  • Office Supplies – save 20% when purchased in the state of Oregon

BONUS – Extra money outside Portland! It’s called rOPIF.

There is even more money on the table if you shoot part or all of your film outside of Portland. As I talked about in my Location, location, location! article, some of the states most scenic spots are far away from the booming metropolis of Portland. And to help share the love, the state offers extra tax incentives, called rOPIF, to those who are willing to embrace on location shooting in rugged, wonderful Oregon. There are two separate categories.

  1. Portland based productions. If your project is based in Portland, but has work outside the city, known as a “distant location”, you can qualify for money back based on travel expenses in the state. You’ll get up to $200/per person per day up to $10,000 a day.
  2. Entirely outside the city. If your project is based and filmed entirely outside the city (at least 30 miles from the Burnside Bridge) you can qualify for an additional 10% on top of your traditional rebate award.

There are a lot of details involved with these location-based bonuses – find out more info here.

MORE BONUSES! Here are some more ways to save in Oregon.

  • Lodging taxes. For any rooms held 30 days or longer, the state will waive any taxes. Wahoo!
  • Fee free cities. There are 27 cities and 3 counties that are considered fee free. See a list here. Bam!
  • The biggie – no sales tax. This is not a joke. I repeat, this is not a joke. There really is no sales tax in the state of Oregon. Nadda. So add that 8-10% you would pay on purchases in other states right back on top of everything else you are saving. Hizzah!

When you add all of this together, it makes for some pretty impressive reasoning behind shooting your feature film in Oregon and finding a great local director, producer or production company to help you out. If you need more reasons, check out 8 Reasons Indie Films Love aPortland. Bottom line? We love making indie films here – so get here and let’s do it.