Colorado Film Incentive

The Colorado Film Incentive encourages film production in Colorado with a performance-based rebate for up to 20% of qualified expenses. The incentive creates jobs for Coloradans and provides on average a 37-to-1 return on investment for the economy. The films also promote Colorado as a tourism destination.

The incentive supports:

  • feature films
  • television pilots
  • television series
  • television commercials
  • music videos
  • industrials
  • documentaries
  • video game design and creation

The Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media provides additional non-financial support for larger projects including support finding locations and film crews.

Overview

Type: Tax rebate

For: Filmmakers, production companies, film industry professionals

Amount: Up to 20% of spend in Colorado

Application deadline: Rolling

OEDIT division: Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media

To earn a performance-based rebate of up to 20%, all production companies need to hire at least 50% local cast and crew. Colorado production companies need to have at least $100,000 in qualified local expenses.

Out-of-state production companies need to have at least $1 million in qualified local expenses, except if you are producing television commercials and video game productions. Those productions need to have at least $250,000 in qualified local expenses.

To apply for this incentive, your production needs to show proof of 80% financing. A production may apply solely for post-production incentives as long as the spending meets or exceeds the requirements.

Before you start work (defined as principal photography) or incur expenses eligible for the incentive, your production needs to:

  • submit a pre-application 
  • be invited to apply for the incentive
  • receive approval
  • be under contract with the State of Colorado

All expenses need to be verified by a Colorado Certified Public Accountant. Qualified local expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • wages with Colorado income tax withholding
  • up to $1 million dollars per employee or contractor to pay the wages or salaries of actors, management, and crew, employees or contractors who participate in the film production activities (Payments over $1 million dollars per employee or contractor shall be excluded.)
  • issuing 1099s forms is not sufficient proof of withholding
  • if you claim non-resident cast or crew member wages as qualified expenses, you need to withhold Colorado income tax
  • developing or purchasing the story and scenario 
  • set construction and operations, wardrobe, accessories, and related services
  • photography, sound recording and synchronization, lighting, and related services
  • editing, post-production, music, and related services
  • renting facilities and equipment, location fees, leasing vehicles
  • food and lodging for people working on the film production
  • airfare purchased through a Colorado-based travel agency or company
  • insurance and bonding purchased through a Colorado-based insurance agent
  • other direct costs incurred by the film production company that the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media deems appropriate

Ineligible expenses

The incentive only covers content creation. These expenses are not eligible:

  • marketing, publicity, and advertising
  • distribution costs
  • development fees outside of Colorado (that is, options, rights, or purchasing a story out of state)
  • travel costs not made through a Colorado-based travel agency or airline

The application process operates on a rolling basis, meaning we accept applications as we receive them. Funding is allocated on an annual basis and aligns with the state’s fiscal year (July 1 to June 30). The earlier in the fiscal year you apply, the more likely that funds are available.

The application process is below.

  1. Submit a preliminary application.
  2. We will contact you to discuss the project. If your project meets certain standards, you will be invited to submit the full application.
  3. If you qualify, we will email you the full application.

Full application

The questions below are only a reference. We will not accept these materials until you have been invited to submit the full application. These questions do not include all of the information you need to include in the full application. You will need to include:

  • project description
  • pitch deck
  • biographies of producers, directors, and attached cast
  • script or treatment (if documentary or non-scripted)

Supporting documents include:

  • certificate of Good Standing from the Colorado Secretary of State
  • budget top sheet that highlights Colorado expenses
  • proof of 80% financing
  • script or treatment – if documentary or non-scripted
  • declaration of Colorado residency – use this form during production activities to maintain records that at least 50% of cast and crew are Colorado residents

Funding is limited and therefore projects will be selected on the merits set forth in the application and not on a first-come, first-served basis. The Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media makes recommendations to the Colorado Economic Development Commission (EDC). 

The EDC has final approval based on available funds and an application’s merits including:

  • expected economic impact
  • number of jobs created
  • overall positive impact for Colorado

The EDC reviews applications at its monthly meetings on the third Thursday of each month.

Regardless of actual expenses, the incentive amount cannot exceed the incentive amount you requested in your application.

If documentation meets all requirements, the office will issue an incentive payment to the production company by electronic funds transfer within 45 days of approving the Certified Public Accountant report and other required documentation.

Your production company needs to retain a Colorado Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to review and report – in writing and following professional standards – the accuracy of financial documents that detail the expenses incurred during production activities in Colorado and the figures in the Film Incentive Proof of Performance Form (PDF). The report will be submitted to the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media (COFTM).

The Colorado CPA needs to:

Your production company needs to certify in writing that the amount of your actual qualified local expenses equals or exceeds the minimum requirement for the incentive. You will also need to submit:

  • copies of all invoices, receipts, and other documentation of qualified Colorado expenses
  • declaration of Colorado Residency Forms – Submit in one document, alphabetized by last name with proof of residency
  • insurance policy for the production with an effective date before the start of production
  • detailed plans for film distribution, including name(s) of distributor(s)
  • final budget and ledger detailing production financial information of qualified local expenses
  • total payroll report indicating qualified Colorado payroll and number of hours worked by employee (excluding/obscuring social security numbers)
  • completed Workforce and Payroll and Vendor Spend Template (XLS)
  • crew call sheets – Submit in one document, alphabetized by last name 
  • final crew list separated by the total crew, total Colorado crew or extras per definitions, and non-qualifying crew or extras
  • final Colorado vendor list, including addresses and contact information
  • list of all cities and specific locations used in Colorado 
  • at least one copy/link/invitation to the production (due upon completion)
  • at least five digital still photos from production, with rights cleared for promotional use (due upon completion)
  • at least one digital poster copy to promote a feature film (if available, due upon completion) – not applicable for commercials

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