“Chilled in Miami,” a romantic comedy about a Miami business woman who moves to a small Minnesota town, recently concluded photography in Winnipeg, Canada. Once again a Canadian city is cast as Minnesota. Renee Zelweger and Harry Connick Jr. star this time. Coming on the heals of “Juno” (filmed in British Columbia) and “Leatherheads” (shot in the Carolinas), “Chilled” begs the question “Why isn’t Minnesota competitive as a location for films set in Minnesota?”
The exchange rate is currently at par. And Minnesota looks exactly like Minnesota. More like Minnesota than any other place, in fact.
The problem is the huge incentives offered by Canadian provinces, often as much as 45% compared to Minnesota’s 15% Snowbate program. The Canadians continue to up the ante in order to hang onto the slice of the production pie they gained when the exchange rate was a key factor. Now they have skilled and experience crews, too.
It will take more than the modest Snowbate incentives to earn back a significant share of northern tier film production. The legislature and other units of government should find creative new ways to encourage production and keep Minnesota film crews working and paying taxes.