The St. Louis Film Office Expands With New Staff

Thursday June 6, 2024

By Catherine Neville

St. Louis Grows in Popularity as an Affordable, Convenient Destination for Filmmakers

ST. LOUIS: Since the passing of the Show MO Act in 2023, the St. Louis film industry has been given new life, and it’s easier than ever to film in St. Louis. Thanks to tax credits that haven’t been available in Missouri for more than a decade, new interest and production dollars have made their way into Missouri. In fact, the St. Louis Film Office, a subset of Explore St. Louis, hired its first full-time film office manager, Kelley Hiatt, to help meet the growing demand of film projects that have been popping up across Greater St. Louis.

Hiatt has nearly 20 years of experience as a locations manager, having worked in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. “What I love about St. Louis is how unique and versatile it is,” says Hiatt. “You can film 10 different looks on the same street.” 

As the film office’s manager, Hiatt promotes the St. Louis region as an up-and-coming filming location, in addition to assisting with production needs ranging from logistics to lodging. Hiatt’s previous experience on the other side of production helps greatly, as she’s able to anticipate a production’s needs and assist in creating seamless filming experiences. 

Producers and directors may register their projects on the St. Louis Film Office webpage. The page also offers information on how to apply for the Missouri Motion Media tax incentive, how to submit a home or business as a filming location, and a toolbox to connect productions with St. Louis filming locations.

Prior to the tax credit, Explore St. Louis’ film office assisted with occasional projects, typically commercials and independent films. Since the tax credits became available, at least one major motion picture — On Fire — has been filmed in St. Louis, with many more productions expressing interest as word spreads on how easy it’s becoming to film in Missouri. From affordable Midwest prices to the ease of on-location filming, the St. Louis region offers a wide range of benefits and resources for prospective TV and movie productions.

When a production comes to town, its economic impact on St. Louis can be extraordinary. “During less than a month of filming, On Fire employed local talent, including cast and crew, and sourced equipment and cameras from multiple local production companies,” says Hiatt. “In that time, the production spent thousands of dollars on local services ranging from gas to dry cleaning. They booked over 1600 room nights at local hotels and had multiple short-term leases on residential, commercial, and industrial real estate for filming locations, production offices, workshops, and storage facilities. That’s an amazing windfall for our local businesses and economy.”

Looking ahead, as word spreads about St. Louis’ growing film industry, the plan is to continue securing film projects that generate production dollars and create new jobs. “Filmmakers are no longer bound to just New York and LA,” says Hiatt. “Here in St. Louis, we have four distinct seasons, the state tax credit is a great incentive, city and county governments are easy to work with, and we have so much potential.”