Joe Biden didn’t get the support of Taylor Swift on Super Bowl Sunday as some predicted. But her boyfriend Travis Kelce is using the President’s renewable energy tax credits to finance the film “My Dead Friend Zoe.”
The SXSW-bound indie film, starring Natalie Morales, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman, marks Kelce’s first foray into cinema, with the Kansas City Chiefs tight end serving as an executive producer. The low-budget dark comedy’s investors, which include Kelce, are the first to use the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 to finance a film. (“My Dead Friend Zoe” cost less than $10 million.)
The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022, marks “the largest single investment in climate and energy in American history, enabling America to address the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and maintain America’s position as a global leader in domestic clean energy production.” “and put the United States on track to achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s climate goals, including a net-zero economy by 2050,” according to the US Department of Energy website. “My Dead Friend Zoe” used the money that green energy entrepreneur Mike Field made by selling excess tax credits. (Field is also a producer on the film.)
“Hollywood is risky, right? On a scale of one to ten, Hollywood, it’s a 9.5. “Especially when it comes to independent films,” says “My Dead Friend Zoe” producer Ray Maiello, who runs California-based Radiant Media with Field. “These federal tax credits reduce the risk to about five.”
Kelce, Maiello and Field used the same strategy to finance a second film, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s documentary Pleasure King. The film is directed by Quinn Wilson, Lizzo’s former creative director, and made in collaboration with the late artist’s estate. Kelce, Maiello and Field could spark a trend in Hollywood to use the Inflation Reduction Act as a way to raise money and bolster the struggling indie film sector.
“[Field] and I wanted to branch out and we talked about it [expanding] for years. And then Biden really created a stimulus,” Maiello adds. “Biden recognized that people cannot plan for how much tax they will owe. People don’t want to take risks. And so he really opened it up with these federal tax credits, and we’re combining that with Hollywood. That’s the idea.”
Directed by Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, “My Dead Friend Zoe” follows an Afghanistan veteran (Morales) who is confronted by her Vietnam veteran grandfather (Harris) at the family’s ancestral lake house. The film, which will have its world premiere at SXSW on March 9, is sold by CAA.
Although Kelce has already hinted that he will return for the 2024-25 NFL season to join the Chiefs’ quest to potentially score three goals as Super Bowl champions, he is now making inroads into Hollywood in a similar way to Tom Brady , who recently played himself in the hit comedy “80 for Brady” and also worked as a producer. Kelce is represented by CAA.