GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons increased his funding for the state film office as Arizona tries to attract filmmakers without providing tax breaks.

After helping revive Arizona’s Office of Film and Digital Media in December, GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons is re-upping his financial contributions. 

Last year, Parsons, who owns Sneaky Big Studios in Scottsdale, gave more than $250,000 to the state film office. This fiscal year, he’s giving $318,000, which the office will match dollar-for-dollar, he said.

Many states have an income-tax credit to attract filmmaking. Arizona hasn’t had that incentive since 2010.

“We compete with New York and New Mexico and other states that do a tremendous amount of film,” Parsons said. “We’re doing it all with private investments and our state film office.”

RELATED: 30 movies made in Arizona

The Arizona Commerce Authority established its film office in December and hired Matthew Earl Jones, James Earl Jones’ half-brother, as its director.

Although the film office has already seen success in its eight-month run, helping with about 50 productions, Parsons said it will take time for the state to effectively compete with New Mexico and other nearby states with attractive incentives.

“Business doesn’t come together instantly,” he said. “It takes time.” 

In addition to his financial contribution, Parsons announced two new programs for the film office:

  • A registry of “point” people across the state to assist in location scouting, securing permits and sourcing local talent
  • Discounts on hotels, rental cars and restaurants to attract out-of-state filmmakers

Earl Jones said it’s important to not just focus people in major Arizona cities such as Phoenix and Scottsdale, but in rural, scenic areas like Show Low and Holbrook.

A recent production brought 1,300 hotel nights to Holbrook, he said.

“In Scottsdale and Phoenix, you have trade shows all the time,” Earl Jones said. “But 1,300 hotel nights in Holbrook?”

FROM 2014: Should Arizona court filmmaking industry?

A “Reel Deals” program allows private sector companies, such as hotel owners, rental-car operators and restaurants, to provide discounts to out-of-state productions that register with the film office.

The level of discounts are set by individual vendors but have to at least be 10 percent off their regular price.  

Earl Jones said the discounts are designed to match the 30 percent tax credit other states offer. Since the breaks come in the form of discounts, though, producers will get the savings instantly. In other states, they must wait months or years for the rebates to come through, he said.

“The goal is to match that (tax) credit and not burden the state,” he said.


Show Thumbnails

Show Captions


Arizona film office gets a second chance

Large-scale film productions skip Arizona

Arizona movie locations, suggested by readers

Top 5 WWII movies: Pacific Theater

Read or Share this story: