KC Film's new star Rachel Kephart wants Hollywood to set up shop in the heartland

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Photo courtesy of Netflix/Christopher Smith

when court Last time we reported on the state of film production in Missouri, the region's film industry was in a promising but precarious space.

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Photos courtesy of Rachel Copt

Kansas City offers financial incentives to production companies interested in filming here and is starting to attract attention from outside production companies, in part because of its starring role in the second season of a Netflix series. Pink heroes to the rescue. However, the lack of incentives at the national level makes competition for film projects difficult.

That changed last July, when Gov. Mike Parson signed into law a tax incentive program for 30-minute productions with qualifying expenses (money spent in Missouri) over $50,000. A 20% tax credit is available for productions exceeding thirty minutes (i.e. short films) and over $100,000 – television and feature films. If the work meets certain prerequisites, it may be possible to obtain further tax credits.

After nine years as the only city in the country to offer local film incentives without the support of a statewide program, Kansas City is now on the filmmaking radar like never before.

In other words, it's an exciting time to be running a Kansas City film office.

“If a story is set in Kansas City, it can now be shot here in a way that makes sense for the industry,” said Rachel Kephart, the new director of the Kansas City Film Office. “It’s great that Kansas City can become more business-savvy.”

These additional incentives not only bring in outside business, but also help locally-connected filmmakers and the people who live here get the resources they need.

“What I'm most excited to see is our local talent yes Take advantage of the incentives to develop their projects here,” she said. “There are a lot of people with connections to the larger market, but so far they haven't been able to work hard to bring their projects here. Now, they have financial They need the leverage they need to launch projects domestically. Outside projects boost our economy but ultimately also help our local workforce.

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Photo courtesy of Netflix

Kephart succeeds longtime Kansas City film office director Steph Shannon, who left late last year after helping to rebuild the office in 2014.Gain experience as a production assistant on projects such as this American Ninja Warrior, temptation island and TLC show Love and Translation.

“This is a great mentoring opportunity,” Copt said. “I got to attend any meeting I wanted. It's an opportunity to learn how to bring production to a new city where you've never worked exist, and helped me understand what Large scale production needs from the community and Film Specialist.

Those years traveling between Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Hawaii (among other places) also helped Caillat make a lot of useful connections and develop a passion for helping local filmmakers and talent build sustainable careers here , rather than having to leave to follow their dreams.

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Photo courtesy of Netflix

“I want Kansas City to be a place where aspiring filmmakers and crew members feel they can build sustainable careers without having to leave to gain experience in other markets. I'm lucky enough to see that I have worked as a personal assistant Someone becomes a director of photography or a director and takes on a key role,” Kephart said. “I’m very proud to see them succeed and to see this industry become sustainable enough for them to be successful here.”

What’s another part of her new job that she loves? Showcasing Kansas City's hospitality and accessibility. “That's one of my favorite things, working with the production team and seeing their reaction to the reception of this place – not just the city and the film community, but all the industries that are willing to come in and get involved because They know it's good for the city,” Kephart said. “It’s great to be a part of all this.”

Capt showed some of the places in the area, noting the visual diversity among rural farmland, Kansas City suburbs and and Neighborhoods like Brookside and The Plaza in particular have an advantage – productions that require a variety of locations can be found here without having to travel far.

“We have these unique, eclectic, specific communities. I try my best to take them around to find locations,” Copt said. “We went to 18th Street, Vine Street and the West Bottoms, and things looked very different there.”

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Photo courtesy of Netflix

It’s been nearly a year With a statewide film incentive signed into law, Capet already has plenty of opportunities to showcase the city to visiting productions. Capt said the city already hosts a reality series. As we speak, two feature films are actively filming in the region taking advantage of the new incentives. There are plans to shoot three more films in the area before September. “We're really busy,” she said.

Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and Dean of Undergraduate Programs, College S, UMKCSchool of HHumanities and SSocial Sciences Caitlin Hosmon, who was Capt's advisor when she was a student there. Hosmon said the skills Capt developed as an undergraduate have come to play a big role in her new role. “We at UMKC are very proud to have Rachel Kephart as our next Director of the Kansas City Film Office,” she said. “I know she will bring great leadership and an incredible work ethic and She showed her talents in new roles while she was still a student. Rachel’s passion for the city and filmmaking will undoubtedly put Kansas City’s talented professionals and production opportunities in the national spotlight.

Capt says nuclear Local Film Producers, Casting Directors, Designers and Other industry professionals helped provide her with skilled workers arrive The works that came here. The community has a wealth of experience and can come together to make things happen.

“Some people have to be their own support system for a while,” she said. “Both projects shot here now have local connections and the people making them know the city. When they need help, they tap me and I lend a hand,” she said. “We have proficient There is a professional and self-sufficient crew make My job has become much easier.

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Photo courtesy of Netflix/Eve Dastmalchian

Kephart’s goal for the position is to build a local talent base and create jobs that will keep industry professionals employed long-term. “I wanted to attract a narrative series to Kansas City because they have incredible potential for longevity, which means continued work year after year,” she said. “The core objective is not a big project but a sustainable local industry.”

another long term goal It's a meeting Hopefully, its importance will grow as the city continues to attract a greater production: workforce development.

“As we get busier, one of the challenges is we have to increase our workforce,” Kephart said. “As more projects come in and the need for talent continues to grow, I want to help strengthen University Raising standards and developing apprenticeship schemes so we can create practical learning experiences for young people who want to get involved.

Copt said all of this bodes well for what could be an exciting future for the area and its residents trying to pursue a career in filmmaking.

“Kansas City is the ultimate host city. We are accessible, affordable and welcoming,” she said. “All of this combined with financial incentives puts us on track to become the next major industrial center in the Midwest.”

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