Travis Kelce was a football star, winner of two Super Bowls and a colorful character in the world of American sports, but then he did a good job of hosting SNL and hooked up with Taylor Swift, and now he’s one of the most famous people on the planet. 


Even though he has said he plans to play for Kansas City in the 2024-25 season, people are wondering what his next move will be. His arguably more colorful brother, Jason, seems destined for a career as an analyst or some other on-air football job, but even before Taylor, Travis spent a lot of his downtime in Los Angeles, practicing for his showbiz era. Now that he’s a “big name celebrity”, even though football is still his career, scrutiny has intensified on his off-field moves.

The latest is that he is producing his first film, an indie called My Dead Friend Zoe. It stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Natalie Morales, Ed Harris, and Morgan Freeman and is about two generations of American veterans clashing on a family vacation. It will premiere at SXSW next month. Kelce is not involved in the creative side of the production, he is an investor, but a significant enough investor to warrant an “executive producer” credit. For someone who simply cannot devote 100% of his time and energy to developing, financing, staffing, and physically producing a film, that’s not a bad level at which to begin learning the film business, especially as My Dead Friend Zoe is a landmark production.


It's the first film to use President Biden’s renewable energy tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act to partially finance the film. Another producer on the film, Mike Field of Radiant Media Studios, had surplus tax credits he sold to raise cash for the film. I’m not even going to pretend to understand how that works, but it’s definitely better than deleting films for tax write-offs. This time, they’re using tax credits to fund films. And as Ray Maiello, Field’s partner at Radiant Media, points out, “Hollywood is risky, right? […] These federal tax credits take the risk down to like a five.”


Using the same tax credit incentive, Kelce and the Radiant Media team are also financing a documentary about Jean-Michel Basquiat from director Quinn Wilson. Variety attempts to equate Kelce’s money moves to Tom Brady producing and appearing in 80 For Brady, but I think it’s notable that Kelce isn’t making movies about himself. He’s putting his money and his fame into indies, a character-driven drama and a doc about an important but tragically short-lived American artist. 


These are not projects likely to feed his ego in terms of scale, and it speaks well of Travis Kelce that he seemed to set his ego aside and pursue opportunities to get involved with meaningful projects that won’t necessarily shower him in attention or glory. That said, he will 100% star in a studio movie as soon as the timing works out. Marshawn Lynch did it in Bottoms, Travis Kelce’s center stage moment is coming. You know it is.