The Austin American-Statesman has an interesting story today about a new film from Texas director Robert Rodriguez being denied state film rebates over its content.
The newspaper reports that the denial was made over of a section of the Texas law that allows the film commission to deny a rebate application because of “inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion, as determined by the office, in a moving image project.”
Texas film industry insiders said they were disappointed by the decision to deny rebates for “Machete.” They also said films could still be made with rebates from other states, including Oklahoma:
Austin screenwriter and author Si Dunn , who was one of the paid extras in “Machete,” said Wednesday, “Texas needs to do a much better job of politically supporting its movie and television industry…. The notion that state legislators somehow can protect Texas’ image from ‘negative light’ is just laughable — and sadly naive. Movies casting some aspect of Texas in a ‘negative light’ can be made with help from state incentives in Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma or almost any other state and then be shown in Texas theaters.”
Earlier this year, I asked Jill Simpson, director of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office, if there were any concerns about protecting free expression in Oklahoma’s film rebate program. At the time, we were talking about some of the violent images captured in “The Killer Inside Me,” which was filmed partly in Oklahoma and received rebates.
Here’s what Simpson said in a February interview:
My job is a really interesting intersection; it’s art meets industry. My job and the film commission’s mission in statute is to administer the rebate program to develop the industry and that’s what we do. Other than making sure it’s not pornography or child pornography, according to statute — I’m not the producer, writer, director on the film — that is beyond the scope of what my job is.
I will say, in the case of “Killer,” as I’ve said before, I took the script and compared it word for word to the novel and was very happy with how closely the script mirrored the original material, which is a classic. What you can’t know is exactly how it’s going to be filmed or edited.
But with states trying to find money anywhere to close budget gaps, incentives of all types have come under fire. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has proposed $9 million in cuts to that state’s film and TV incentives for the 2011 budget, according to the Austin newspaper.
In Oklahoma, the film rebate program is capped at $5 million a year. A separate program that allowed some filmmakers to use rural and small business venture capital tax credits was suspended by lawmakers earlier this year to help balance the FY 2011 budget.
- Related post: DataWatch: Film incentives under fire fire–director’s cut edition
- Related: Film industry rallies to save Missouri tax credits
- Related: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, State Film Subsidies: Not Much Bang for Too Many Bucks
- Related: MPAA slaps back at film tax incentive study
Written by Paul Monies