CHEROKEE NATION FILM INCENTIVES

Beginning March 1, 2022, the Cherokee Nation Film Office will begin accepting applications for a new cash rebate incentive fund offering up to $1 million annually for production expenses occurring within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

The rebate will cover expenses for both production expenses and wages. Detailed information on the program will be released in the near future.

The Cherokee Nation is located in Northeast Oklahoma covering 7,000 square miles over 14 counties offering a variety of looks from the big city to rural towns to rivers, dams, and five distinct ecoregions.

This incentive is available on its own or could be used in conjunction with the state of Oklahoma’s incentive program, but each require their own separate application processes. The Film In Oklahoma Act of 2021, administered by the Oklahoma Film & Music Office, offers producers a cash rebate of up to 38% based on several qualifying uplifts.

The mission of the Cherokee Nation Film Office is to increase the presence of Native Americans in every level of the film and television industries, while creating opportunities for economic development and jobs in the Cherokee Nation.

A list of Federally Recognized Tribes can be found here.

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INCENTIVE RULES & REGULATIONS
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CHEROKEE NATION FILM INCENTIVE SUMMARY

The purpose of the Cherokee Nation Film Incentive program is to encourage the production of film and television projects within the boundaries  of the Cherokee Nation and to hire Natives in all phases of production including development, pre-production, production, and post-production.

Qualifying Productions

Feature Films, Scripted Television, Reality Television, Pilots, Animation, Music Videos, and Documentaries

Minimum Spend

Production must spend a minimum of $50,000 in Oklahoma of which $25,000 must be spent within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation (“CN”).

Annual Program Cap

The annual program cap is $1,000,000 dollars per calendar year.

Per Project Cap

There is no project cap.

Sunset Date

There is no sunset date.

Rebate

Rebate is awarded to the applicant upon final approval of final application and audit.

Above-The-Line Eligible Wages

(Above the Line rebate is only available for fees/salaries of Native Americans who are enrolled members of a federally recognized tribe.)

Qualified Production Expenditure (QPE) Eligibility Criteria Rebate Rate(s)
Writer Fees
  • Native American*
  • Residing in CN
25%
Director Fees
  • Native American*
  • Residing in CN
20%
+5% Uplift
Producer Fees
  • Native American*
  • Residing in CN
20%
+5% Uplift
Principal Cast
  • Native American*
  • Residing in CN
20%
+5% Uplift

*Native American is defined as a citizen of a Federally Recognized Tribe

NOTE: Only wages paid for services rendered while “boots on the ground” within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation are eligible.

Below-The-Line Eligible Wages

Eligibility Criteria Rebate Rate
Non-Native American / Non-Oklahoma Resident 10%
Non-Native American / Oklahoma Resident 15%
Any Native American 20%
Any Cherokee Nation citizen OR Any Native American who resides within the Cherokee Nation 25%

*Native American is defined as a citizen of a Federally Recognized Tribe

NOTE: Only wages paid for services rendered while “boots on the ground” within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation are eligible.

Production Spend Excluding Wages (e.g. Rentals, Purchases)**

Eligibility Criteria Rebate Rate
Within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation 20%
5% Uptick paid to Native American owned businesses within the CN and the vendor is able to prove at least 51% Native ownership. +5%

**The rebate is not available for purchases incurred outside the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. Also note that if a production has acquired or rented from a CN vendor, shoots in the CN, and also decides to shoot a portion of the project outside the boundaries of the CN, 100% of the purchase or rental fee will not be eligible. Instead, the fees will be prorated based on the number of days worked inside and outside the CN.

Other Considerations

  • Can be coupled with the OK Rebate
  • CPA Audit Required (can be the same audit used for the OK incentive providing the audit also substantiates the CN incentive requirements)
  • Production Guidelines shall mirror OFMO in as many ways as possible. However, there may be differences. Cherokee Nation guidelines will be posted on the Cherokee Nation Film Office website and are the final determination of rules for the program. Production needs pre-qualification approval from Cherokee Nation Film Office in order to qualify for the CN Rebate.
  • Application Process
    • Productions need to apply to the Cherokee Nation Film Office at least 45 days prior to the start of principal photography and receive a letter of pre-approval prior to the start of principal photography to qualify.
    • Productions must also submit a final application, detailing all expenses and filming locations, no later than 90 days after final expenses have been incurred in Oklahoma.
  • On Screen Credit for Cherokee Nation required in the Opening Main Titles either by a logo to be provided or language acceptable to the CN.
  • No real weapons can be used on the production within the CN boundaries.
  • Cherokee Nation has script approval (to be submitted at time of initial application) and project, if rated, must have an ultimate MPAA Rating no more restrictive than “R” or its equivalent.
  •  To qualify as a Trainee an individual must be:
    • A Native American who is a member of a federally recognized tribe with proof of citizenship
    • A student getting class credit or a non-student with fewer than three production credits in that department. A trainee may not have more than five production credits total.
    • Supervised by an experienced industry professional serving as a Department Manager or higher in the trade, craft or profession being practiced by the Trainee in the production
    • Work in a trade recognized by CNFO as necessary for a film production; and Work under the supervision of the Department Manager at least one-half (1/2) of the days the Department Manager under which the Apprentice is learning is actively engaged in the film
  • Production will be required to hire a minimum of two (2) Native American paid Trainees residing in the State of Oklahoma.
  • Once a project has received Initial Approval all changes to Native characters or themes must receive written approval by the Cherokee Nation Film Office prior to filming.
  • All roles portraying Native Americans must be cast with Native Americans.

TERO PROGRAM

Established in 1983, TERO (Tribal Employment Rights Office) maintains a listing of verified Native American owned businesses and artisans who are members of a federally recognized tribe. Other businesses in the production zone may be Native owned but not participating in the TERO program so we encourage production companies to discuss the ownership of businesses before selecting vendors.

Members of the film production community can use the TERO list to quickly determine if a business is native owned and those businesses participating in the program will be counted toward meeting hiring and spending criteria in the program rules.

The listing may be found at http://cherokeetero.com.

CHEROKEE NATION ZIP CODES

74003 74070 74301 74343 74403 74470
74006 74072 74330 74344 74423 74471
74015 74073 74331 74346 74426 74477
74016 74080 74332 74347 74427 74931
74017 74082 74333 74349 74432 74936
74019 74083 74337 74350 74434 74945
74021 74103 74338 74352 74435 74946
74022 74106 74340 74354 74441 74948
74027 74108 74342 74359 74446 74954
74029 74110 74343 74361 74450 74955
74036 74115 74344 74364 74451 74960
74042 74116 74346 74365 74452 74962
74048 74117 74347 74366 74455 74964
74051 74120 74349 74367 74457 74965
74053 74126 74338 74368 74464
74055 74127 74340 74369 74467
74061 74130 74342 74401 74469
CHEROKEE NATION INTERACTIVE MAP

*Not all zip codes lie fully within the reservation of the Cherokee Nation. It is recommended you verify the address on the interactive map that has been provided to ensure it is in the Cherokee Nation.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The purpose of the Cherokee Nation Film Incentive program is to encourage the production of film and television projects within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation and to hire Natives in all phases of production including development, pre-production, production, and post-production.

Beginning March 1, 2022 the Cherokee Nation will begin accepting applications for up to $1 million per year for rebates on spending on the film and television production within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

In order to qualify for the program, your spending must take place within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

Yes, there is a cap of $1 million per year.  There are no per project caps.

There is a minimum spend of $50,000 within the State of Oklahoma with at least $25,000 of qualified spend within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.  Productions must apply to the Cherokee Nation Film Office at least 45 days prior to principle photography and receive an Initial Approval letter from the Cherokee Nation Film Office prior to the start of principle photography to qualify. Productions must also submit a final application, detailing all expenses and filming locations and other required information, no later than 90 days after final expenses occur in Oklahoma.

Applications are vetted and approved by the, Cherokee Nation Film Office and all applications are reviewed by a committee made up of professionals from Cherokee Nation Businesses and Cherokee Nation Cultural and Economic Development, LLC.

It depends on how much you spend in the Cherokee Nation and who you hire.

The base incentive offers a 20% rebate for qualified production expenses within the Cherokee Nation boundaries.  An additional uplift would increase the percentage to 25% of the qualifying spending at Native-owned businesses (majority 51% ownership) in the Cherokee Nation boundaries.

The rebate on salaries will depend on the residence and tribal status of employees.  All cast and crew will be eligible for at least a 10% credit with that increasing to 15% for Oklahoma residents and 20% for members of a federally recognized tribe and 25% for members of a federally recognized tribe living in the Cherokee Nation.

Our goal is to approve all completed initial applications within 30 days of submission but the actual approval time may vary. No expenses will be allowed prior to receipt of Initial Approval letter. Because of their complexity, final applications will take longer to review and verify expenses but our goal is to issue rebate checks as quickly as possible.

Productions must submit a completed Initial Application that will found on our web site herebeginning in late February 2022.  No applications will be accepted before March 1, 2022.

It is a cash rebate sent to the named company or individual on the application form after the final application has been reviewed and approved.

Final applications will be accompanied by a CPA’s report, prepared at the expense of the applicant, attesting that the amounts in the application are qualified Oklahoma and Cherokee nation expenditures (QOE) that comply with the requirements of the Administrative Rules and that at least $25,000 is within the Cherokee Nation. Additionally, the final application must include the names and addresses of all cast and crew and a copy of all tribal enrollment cards for claims of tribal hiring bonuses.  Proof of native ownership must also be submitted for claims of the production enhancement for spending with native-owned businesses.

For projects with QOE over $250,000, the materiality threshold used for CPA review is the lesser of 1% of QOE or $100,000.

For a list of approved CPAs, please visit the Oklahoma Production Directory, located at okfilmmusic.org.

Our goal is to complete review of all final  applications as quickly as possible upon receipt of the completed application.  However, due to the complexity of the applications and variety of projects we may receive we cannot guarantee a specific turnaround time.

For detailed information see the Administrative Rules. However, all spending must take place within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. Productions can find out if their location, or vendor, is in the Cherokee Nation boundaries by using an interactive map.

Yes, this incentive can be applied for in addition to the Oklahoma State film incentive or alone. However, each organization’s incentive is separate and must be applied for individually.  Each organization has its own approval process and a project may be approved by one organization and denied by the other.

Yes, since this is a new program the rules and regulations may update. Updates will be posted on the Cherokee Nation Film Office website when they are going into effect.  The program is managed by the Cherokee Nation Film Office and all incentive applications are reviewed by a committee made up of professionals from Cherokee Nation Businesses and Cherokee Nation Cultural and Economic Development, LLC.

No. Applications are based on the merits of the project based on a variety of factors to include, but not limited to, the benefits of the project to the Cherokee Nation (including, but not limited to, economic impact, job creation, Native American representation, tourism, branding, image and follow-on work, funds available, anticipated future program needs and other projects applying for rebates).  An application does not guarantee approval.

Yes, you can speak with Kevin Shand, Cherokee Nation Film Office Manager, or Jennifer Loren, Director of the Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content. Both can be reached at hello@cherokee.film.

No, unless there have been material changes in the information provided in the original application.

Yes, wages paid to non-Oklahoma residents do apply but only as applied to wages earned while filming in the Cherokee Nation.

Commercials do not qualify but documentaries, scripted and non-scripted television shows do qualify.

The primary factor is that filming must take place within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.  Other factors that help determine an approval include, but are not limited to, the benefits of the project to the Cherokee Nation, including economic impact, job creation, Native American representation, tourism, branding, image and follow-on work, funds available anticipated future program needs and other projects applying for rebates.

There is a minimum spend of $50,000 within the State of Oklahoma with at least $25,000 taking place within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

To utilize the Cherokee Nation Film Incentive, projects are required to show proof that 50% of funding is in place, due 45 days prior to the start of principal photography, and proof that complete funding is in place, due 30 days prior to the start of principal photography. For other benchmarks, please visit and review the Administrative Rules.

No, but consideration will be given to projects that accurately portray Native Americans and/or help dispel harmful stereotypes and inaccurate histories.

No. But the amount of Native Americans you hire, and where they live, will determine the amount of the credit you earn for each employee.

No. However, spending at native businesses (majority 51% ownership) will increase the rebate to 25% of the spend at that business.  We will provide a link to the Cherokee Nation’s TERO program on the incentive page when incentive applications go live or utilize our CNFO Support Services Directory.

Yes, final rebate applications must be accompanied by a CPA’s report, prepared at the expense of the applicant, attesting that the amounts in the application are qualified Cherokee Nation expenditures (QPE) that comply with the requirements of the Administrative Rules and that at least $25,000 is within the Cherokee Nation.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

RULES AND REGULATIONS

The Cherokee Nation Film Incentive operates under the Administrative Rules. The Cherokee Nation Film Incentive rules and regulations are the final determination of eligibility requirements.

The Cherokee Nation Film Incentive requires that all qualifying expenses for the Cherokee Nation Film Incentive must take place inside the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

For questions about the program call 918-645-3396 or reach out to us at hello@cherokee.film.