The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) today approved an incentive program to draw filmmakers to the Range. An initial fund of $800,000 will be used to reimburse up to 20 percent of costs if they use the Range as a location.
“It’s give a little, get a lot,” said Riki McManus of Duluth, who promotes upstate film production. “It makes us competitive again.” She cited the $5 million that the Charlize Theron film “North Country,” shot in and around Eveleth in 2004, brought to the area. Other states have attracted filmmakers with larger rebates. “Gran Torino,” the 2008 Clint Eastwood film that was originally set in Minnesota, got shot in Michigan because they offered a rebate of more than 40 percent.
Movies can bring not just a spate of temporary jobs, McManus said, but also more permanent prosperity, like the kind experienced by the Natural Harvest food store in the Iron Range town of Virginia during and after “North Country.”
All of a sudden, the local people found out the stars were being seen there, so everyone started going there, and found out they liked healthier food, so business remained high even after the film crew left.”
Two film projects are already perusing the Range as a primary location, one written by film producer Josh Blum (“Margin Call”) and financed by a local company, Griffin Productions.