The Film Scene in Kentucky Is Booming: News on ‘The Starling Girl,’ 502Film, and More

With tax incentives going full steam now and entering their third year, the film scene in Kentucky is booming. I’ll be stopping by SCREEN throughout the year to give you the lowdown on what’s filming around the great Commonwealth of Kentucky.

First things first, about that tax incentive. Kentucky has a 30%-35% Tax Credit for Feature Films, Broadway Productions, Industrial Films, Documentaries, and Television Shows. Click here for a good article with full details.

Starling Girl Shines at Sundance

All eyes were on Park city this year with the first in-person Sundance since 2020 and the Kentucky crew showed up in full force… despite the below freezing temperatures!

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, several Kentucky-related films were featured. Laurel Parmet’s The Starling Girl shot entirely around Louisville and the Jefferson County area, and received rave reviews on the heels of its premiere in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. The film follows 17-year-old Jem Starling (played by Eliza Scanlen), who struggles to define her place within her fundamentalist Christian community in rural Kentucky. Producers include Independent Spirit Award Nominee Kara Durrett.

This film was just picked up by Bleecker Street and should be heading to theaters near you soon. Click here for full details on that purchase.

Til then, here’s a chat with Laurel about her superb feature film:

Also on the Sundance slate was King Coal, a beautiful doc by Academy Award Nominee Elaine McMillion Sheldon. The feature filmed partly in Harlan County, Kentucky.

Finally, Louisville-based filmmakers Bryn Silverman and Naveen Chaubal worked on the documentary short film Under G-d, directed by Paula Eiselt. The Sundance selection, which was primarily shot in neighboring Indiana, explores interfaith opposition to abortion bans.

Celebrating on the Slopes

The Kentucky Film Commission, along with 502Film, Louisville Film Commission, visitLEX, Film Cincinnati, Southern Kentucky Film Commission, sonaBLAST!, Unbridled Films, Rabbit Hole and Art Eatables hosted a great party for 500+ Sundance Festival-goers.

Attendees included luminaries such as Mary Stuart Masterson, legendary indie producer Milan Chakraborty and Louisville-based Felipe Dieppa, best known as the voice of Diego in Dora the Explorer!.

Here are a few photos from the Park City festivities, courtesy of 502Film

On the Feature Film Production Front

The indie film Muzzle, line-produced locally in Louisville by BD Gunnell, starring Aaron Eckhart, recently wrapped and is deep in post-production. It follows LAPD K-9 officer Jake Rosser (Eckhart) who has just witnessed the shocking murder of his dedicated partner by a mysterious assailant. More updates in the months ahead.

Stephen Belber’s What We Do Next, starring Corey Stoll, hits theaters in March and was filmed in a remarkable seven days in Louisville during COVID!

Here is your first look at the Kentucky-made feature…

I’ll have more for you from our Commonwealth of Kentucky later this month, including news on a trio of star-studded productions. Check back here at SCREEN or you can click right here to subscribe to the weekly email newsletter.

And if you are heading into production on a film, TV or commercial project nearby, please click here to email me via the SCREEN News Desk. I’d love to hear all about it!

Gill Holland is a Sundance-winning indie film producer and Spirit Award Nominee for Producer of the Year, but most of his 100+ films you probably never heard of. He is still fighting the good fight with mainly first time filmmakers and low budgets. Click here for more about Gill.

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