Indiana is famous for a lot of things: corn, basketball, limestone, a certain 500-mile race and a nickname for its residents with no origin story.
Something that might not come to mind when imagining the Hoosier state is a thriving film industry. Pigasus Pictures is seeking to change that.
After the premiere of its first film, "The Good Catholic," the Pigasus Pictures team set out to produce six more films over the next three years. Each story will take place in Indiana, starting with its current project, "Ms. White Light." Filming for "Ms. White Light" started in late October and is expected to take about a month. Scenes will be shot all over Bloomington.
"The Good Catholic" was also shot and produced in Bloomington. After the Bloomington premiere, CEO Zachary Spicer, who played a lead role in the film, and COO John Armstrong, toured the state of Indiana to premiere the film and lead talk backs with local audiences.
Spicer said filming in Bloomington is easy because it is an arts-centered town, and the city has been really helpful with providing street closures, parking and security.
However, one of the biggest challenges Pigasus Pictures has faced is that Indiana offers no tax incentives for local film production. In states with an incentive, filmmakers receive tax credits to offset certain production costs. Despite popular films such as "Rudy" and "Breaking Away" having been made in the state, proposed legislation to create such an incentive has never become law.
To combat this problem while forming strong bonds with community members, Pigasus Pictures relies on local businesses for many of its resources.
For "The Good Catholic," Community Ford Lincoln of Bloomington donated vehicles for production use, the restaurant Quaff ON! donated meals and Fourwinds Lakeside Inn & Marina gave the production team discounted hotel rooms. All the businesses that donated were included in the credits and many business owners hosted or attended local film premieres, so the relationships were mutually beneficial, Spicer said.
“We couldn’t have made 'The Good Catholic' or 'Ms. White Light' without them,” he said.
To grow Indiana talent, Spicer and Armstrong also operate a nonprofit organization called Project Pigasus. The organization sponsors a state-wide short film writing competition for high school students, and the winner of the competition has his or her script produced by the Pigasus Pictures team.
“The whole point is to educate and inspire the next generation of filmmakers, so we can retain the talent in Indiana,” Spicer said.
Armstrong said despite some Midwesterners’ attitudes that things from the coast are inherently better, he sees a lot of potential in the flyover states.
The producers said to achieve their goals and overcome the challenges of producing films in Indiana, Pigasus Pictures fosters a culture of collaboration and collectivity.
“In this environment, we aren’t just focused on ourselves,” Spicer said. “We’re focused on each other.”
College students also play an important role in Pigasus Pictures productions. Both Armstrong and Spicer are IU Bloomington alumni, and they bring about 20 student interns to each of their projects. They said they believe talent is abundant at IU and across Indiana. IU students interested in an internship or other involvement with Pigasus Pictures can email .
“We’re creating an opportunity for resources that exist,” said Armstrong. “We’re connecting dots that are already here.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Indiana is famous for "a certain 500-lap race." the Indianapolis 500 is 500 miles, not laps and a correction has been made to reflect that.
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