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Snowbate program lures another independent film to Minnesota

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A new independent film production is shooting in Chisago City thanks to the Minnesota Film & TV Board's Snowbate program, KSTP reports.

Filmmakers tell the station they are shooting "The Polar Bear Club" in Minnesota specifically because of the program, which can provide filmmakers rebates of up to 25 percent for shooting in the state.

"Snowbate is absolutely the tool you have to have if you hope to compete for business in the film and television industry right now," Minnesota Film & TV Board Executive Director Lucinda Winter tells KSTP.

The Minnesota Legislature gave the state's film and TV industry a huge boost in June by approving $10 million for the Snowbate program. The Star Tribune said the money invested in the program is more than twice the amount spent to attract films to the state in a recent four-year period.

The money for the Snowbate program, which began this summer, is available to lure filmmakers to Minnesota over a two-year period.

The Motion Picture Association of America has a breakdown of production incentives to filmmakers state-by-state.

"The Polar Bear Club" appears to be tailor-made for the state, since it's about four elderly men who take plunge into a frozen lake in the middle of the cold Minnesota winter. The production tells KSTP it hopes to complete the film by summer and show it at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival next year.

Two films partially shot in Minnesota attracted major attention during the recent Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The Star Tribune said "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter" – which examines a Japanese woman's obsession with what became of the loot at the end of Joel and Ethan Coen's "Fargo" – shot its winter scenes in Cottage Grove last year.

The film didn't qualify for the state's Snowbate program because much of it was filmed in Japan, the paper says.

The other Sundance hit, "Dear White People," did qualify for the Snowbate program, however.

Dan Satorius, the president and chair of the Minnesota Film & TV Board, wrote in an opinion piece in the Star Tribune last month that the social satire is one of 13 projects that applied for the program as of mid-January.

Satorius wrote the piece in response to a Star Tribune article from a few days prior that was critical of the agency.

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