Politics & Government

From ‘Tragedy Girls’ to ‘Guntucky’: A sample of what Kentucky’s film incentives fund

Alexandra Shipp and Brianna Hildebrand in “Tragedy Girls.”
Alexandra Shipp and Brianna Hildebrand in “Tragedy Girls.” Gunpowder & Sky

From “Tragedy Girls” to “Guntucky,” more than 150 projects have been approved by Kentucky officials to collect more than $90 million in film incentives, most of that at a swiftly accelerating pace over the last two years.

It is a varied and relatively modest collection of movies, television shows, documentaries and commercials. Their average production budget is about $2 million. A few have opened in wide release in theaters, but many are headed either for cable television or straight to a streaming service. Some have yet to find any buyers, but the producers are working to make it happen.

Here’s a random sampling of past projects to collect film incentives, as described on the website IMDB:

Kentucky has promised more than $90 million in incentives to companies making movies, television shows, documentaries and commercials inside the state.

▪  “Secretariat” (2010): Starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich. In 1973, Penny Chenery Tweedy guides her powerful stallion to win horse racing’s Triple Crown. Awarded $1,227,598.

▪  “Call of the Wildman” (2013): The exploits of Ernie Brown Jr., nicknamed “The Turtleman,” who operates an animal-removal business in Kentucky with his friend, Neal James, and his dog, Lolly. Awarded $104,312.

▪  “Guntucky” (2013): Follows three generations of the Sumner family who own the Knob Creek Gun Range in Kentucky. Awarded $196,150.

▪  “Where Hope Grows” (2014): A baseball player whose professional career was cut short due to personal problems is suddenly awakened and invigorated by a young man with Down syndrome who works at the local grocery store. Awarded $163,726.

▪  Post Time Productions (2015): Footage of the city of Lexington produced for the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau. Awarded $38,947.

▪  Eye Level Films (2015): A Valvoline television commercial. Awarded $36,343.

▪  “J.L. Family Ranch” (2016): Starring Jon Voight and James Caan. A veteran rancher must face off against the federal government when an old enemy, now a millionaire, alleges that he doesn't actually own his beloved family ranch in a small Texas town. Awarded $952,866.

▪  “Secrets in Suburbia” (2016): After discovering that her three best friends and her husband are plotting to murder her and steal her family fortune, Gloria, an otherwise kind-hearted housewife and mother of two, unfolds and exacts a deadly revenge on all who betrayed her. Awarded $145,486.

▪  Post Time Productions (2017): Promotional videos for the website of the U.S. Equestrian Federation, which is based in Lexington. Awarded $49,972.

▪  “Tragedy Girls” (2017): A twist on the slasher genre, it follows two death-obsessed teenage girls who use their online show about real-life tragedies to send their small Midwestern town into a frenzy and cement their legacy as modern horror legends. Awarded $989,313.

▪  “An Uncommon Grace” (2017): After a tour of duty, an Army nurse returns to her grandmother's farm in Amish country, where she finds unexpected romance and is pulled into a murder mystery. Awarded $363,251.

▪  “Curvature” (2017): Starring Linda Hamilton. A science-fiction drama about an engineer who travels back in time to stop herself from committing a murder. Awarded $372,632.

▪  “Riley’s Peak” (Unreleased): Starring Jon Voight. Against the wishes of his parents, who are in the midst of a messy divorce, a young boy steals the ashes of his dead grandfather and runs away into the wilderness with his dog. Awarded $610,542.

▪  “Above Suspicion” (Unreleased): The chilling true story of a newly married FBI agent assigned to an Appalachian mountain town in Kentucky. There he is drawn into an illicit affair with an impoverished local woman. Awarded $3,263,071.

▪  “What Lies Ahead” (Unreleased): When two young women embark on a road trip from Georgia to New York, an unseen peril emerges that grows stronger with each passing mile. Awarded $43,549.

▪  “Mom and Dad” (Unreleased): Starring Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair. A teenage girl and her little brother must survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of unknown origins causes parents to slaughter their own kids. Awarded $1,541,996.

Kentucky film producer AJ Hochhalter explains how Kentucky's film incentive program helped him produce his documentary "Neat: The Story of Bourbon" just before the production's hometown screening at Kentucky Theatre.

John Cheves: 859-231-3266, @BGPolitics

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