A feature film about a young couple on the run, hiding out in Kansas City, has been awarded the first ever rebate from the Kansas City Film Development Program.
“All Creatures Here Below,” which was written by and will star Overland Park native David Dastmalchian (“Ant-Man,” “Animals”), is scheduled to begin shooting in Kansas City later this month. The production is expected to spend $800,000 during its four weeks of filming here.
The $60,000 rebate — made possible by a city ordinance passed earlier this year — is unique in that Kansas City is the only municipality in America to offer a local film incentive without a state incentive. (The state of Missouri no longer offers tax credits for filmmakers.)
The makers of “All Creatures” applied for the rebate program as soon as it became available in May, according to Stephane Scupham, the city’s film commissioner. She says the incentive sends a signal that Kansas City welcomes more movie production.
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Recently, some movies have been set in Kansas City but were filmed elsewhere, such as Reese Witherspoon’s “The Good Lie” (shot mostly in incentive-rich Georgia) and Bruce Willis’ “RED” (Toronto and Louisiana).
Though part of Dastmalchian’s film is set in Kansas City (the rest unfolds in Los Angles), there was no guarantee that it would be shot here, Scupham said. The rebate cemented the deal; 95 percent of the film is being shot here.
“All Creatures Here Below” will be directed by Colin Schiffli, who also helmed the 2015 feature “Animals,” which was written by and starred Dastmalchian. That critically acclaimed drama about heroin-addicted lovers living on the streets of Chicago was based in part on Dastmalchian’s own history with drugs.
As an actor, Dastmalchian’s resume covers superhero blockbusters (he played one of the Joker’s henchmen in 2008’s “The Dark Knight”) to dramas like 2013’s “Prisoners,” in which he portrayed a sinister kidnapping suspect opposite Hugh Jackman. He appeared with fellow Kansas Citian Paul Rudd in last year’s “Ant-Man.” And this week he joined the cast of the upcoming “Blade Runner” sequel, starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. Among his television credits are “Ray Donovan,” “Almost Human,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “12 Monkeys.”
His “All Creatures” won’t use the full $75,000 the city will allot annually. Scupham said that her office already has received an application for the $15,000 remaining in this year’s fund.
“We’re gearing up to review that and hope to come to a decision within a couple of weeks.”
Under the rebate program, a specified portion of the money spent in the city to make a film is returned to the production. In Kansas City that benefit is in cash; in other locales the benefit may be in the form of tax credits, which can be used by the production company or sold to other businesses.
“We went with cash because it streamlines things for both the production’s and the city’s accountants,” Scupham said.
Scupham stressed that the rebate program needn’t go just to feature films.
“It applies to TV production, short films, music videos, even advertising. The program is accessible to all kinds of productions. We have so many different creators here already and more interested in coming. A key criteria is that there is a minimum that must be spent. It has to be big enough to make an economic impact.”
Find more of Robert W. Butler’s film coverage at butlerscinemascene.com.
A panel of experts will discuss Kansas City’s new film incentive program at 7 p.m. Thursday at StagePort, 208 W. 19th. Participating are Stephane Scupham, KC film commissioner; Megan Crigger, with the city’s Office of Culture & Creative Services; and Amy Greene, lead producer for the upcoming film “All Creatures Here Below.” This meeting of Kansas City Women in Film and TV is free and open to the public.