Good News for Texas Filmmaking!

News from Hector Garcia, TXMPA President:

HB 1634 passed today unanimously. We are so thankful to Representative Dawnna Dukes and the co-sponsors of the bill. Next, the companion bill, SB 782, will be heard in the Senate. We will send updates on SB 782 as soon as those details are available.

So, what does this mean? Read the following piece from the Dallas Morning News...

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Action, lights, cameras?

TV/MOVIES: House OKs bill that would fund incentives to bring
productions to state

12:00 AM CDT on Thursday, April 12, 2007

By KAREN BROOKS / The Dallas Morning News
kmbrooks@dallasnews.com

AUSTIN – After a cliffhanger in the Capitol last week led to a shaky premiere for Texas movie incentives, the House approved legislation Wednesday that would shore up an incentive program to bring films and TV productions to the state.

The idea of helping Texas compete with other states to bring star-studded, multimillion-dollar productions and cutting-edge video-game projects is popular, so it was never a question that lawmakers would eventually create the program.

The nail-biter was whether it would be funded.

But this year, the House budget includes $20 million in incentives for a program advocates say will cement the state's status as one of the best filming locations in the country.

Not to mention, supporters say, stop thousands of production jobs from moving to other states every year.

The bill, endorsed by the House on Wednesday on a voice vote with no objection, would let producers apply for reimbursements for a percentage of the money they spend in the state if they use mostly Texas crews and can illustrate, after the production has wrapped, what kind of economic benefit the project had for Texas.

"The movies that are being shot in Shreveport that are about Dallas, or in Manitoba that are about South Texas, or in New Mexico that are about El Paso – we will be able to bring all those productions back home," said Rep. Dawnna Dukes, the Austin Democrat who sponsored the bill.

After a final procedural vote today, the bill heads to the Senate, where an identical measure is awaiting a hearing in a committee.

Texas' TV, film and video production industry employs about 18,000 people each year but has lost 4,500 jobs to states with incentive programs. About $700 million in production budgets have gone somewhere else, and in the nearly five years since states began creating incentives to lure productions – some tax breaks, others reimbursements – Texas' share of the regional production market went from 85 percent
to 18 percent.

The incentive program was created in 2005 by Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, and Rep. Peggy Hamric, R-Houston, and originally promised to reimburse up to 20 percent of wages paid during a production.

The program had plenty of fans, and it won legislative approval two years ago with no objection. But lawmakers provided no money. Gov. Rick Perry's office was pushing for $30 million in incentives to fund it but met resistance from budget writers who were trying to find a way to fund the state's public-school system and had local priorities they were trying to pay for.

Ms. Dukes' bill changed the existing, unfunded program to base it more on how much money the production brings into the state – forcing filmmakers to prove, after production wraps, that they had a positive impact on the state's economy before they can get any money from the program.

The change of heart in funding came when lawmakers began to realize that movies, TV shows and commercials want to come to Texas but can't always afford it. And that spending money to bring Texas to the silver screen – instead of New Mexico or Louisiana or any of the other nearly 40 states with incentive programs – wasn't a job welfare program.

But a political dispute threatened to hold the bill up last week. Once it was resolved, lawmakers agreed to provide $20 million for the program, with the assumption it can be expanded later.

The new, performance-based approach "is changing legislators' minds about the value of the industry to state coffers," said Austin lobbyist Lawrence Collins, a former budget director in the Capitol who is pushing for the program to be funded.

"The industry will have to perform," he said. "We've made no bones about that."

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Good stuff.

-Blake


0 comments to "Good News for Texas Filmmaking!"

Who Am I?

I'm a filmmaker who's produced & directed five feature films including the comedy SPILT MILK (available on iTunes), the new horror/thriller PHOBIA (on iTunes) and the action/thiller KILLING DOWN (which you can buy or rent at pretty much all the usual places).

I also created the Streamy and Webby award-winning web series PINK, which to date has been viewed online around 10 MILLION times at places like YouTube, Hulu, Koldcast and TheWB.com. And speaking of TheWB.com, I also produced and directed an online thriller for them called EXPOSED. It was released summer 2010. And most recently I created a new online sci-fi series called CONTINUUM, which is part of the online indie TV network JTS.tv - Just The Story and NOW available via VOD through indie platform Distrify.

Oh, and I don't shoot weddings. Thanks for asking though.

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