Texas Film Industry Spends Money to Make Money
In June, we mentioned how the Dallas Film Commission and others from around the state had banded together as the Texas Motion Picture Alliance, a nonprofit hellbent on getting the state legislature to finally fund Texas Senate Bill 1142. That's the bill that offers tax breaks, rebates and other financial incentives -- up to $750,000, matter of fact -- to producers who shoot their movies in Texas. The bill was passed by the state legislature in May 2005, signed by the governor in June 2005 and made effective in September 2005, only it was never actually funded, which makes it less than pointless. Insists a TXMPA press release from August, "According to the Texas Film Commission, in the last three years alone Texas' film industry has lost $500 million in film productions" because the state lacks the necessary bait to lure them here.
The TXMPA in June elected its first president: Dallas' Hector Garcia, who's the owner of Hector's on Henderson, a former member of the City Plan Commission and a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Well, now comes news that the TXMPA has hired itself an old-fashioned lobbying firm it hopes will get the job done: Austin-based HillCo Partners, "whose principals are among the most influential influence peddlers in the state," wrote the Austin Chronicle in 2004. Indeed, it was co-founded by ex-state representative Neal Jones Jr., and among HillCo's clients are Your Dallas Cowboys, Microsoft Corp., the Dallas Independent School District, the Dallas County Hospital District, AT&T and General Motors Corp. (It's also where KTVT-Channel 11's Robert Riggs briefly worked as a media relations consultant in 2001, between stints at WFAA-Channel 8 and Channel 11.)
Says Garcia in the TXMPA's December e-newsletter: "We are extremely fortunate and excited by the opportunity to work closely with a top-notch team with a proven track record in the Texas legislature...It's full steam ahead."
In other TXMPA-related news, the AFI Dallas International Film Festival yesterday sent out a press release saying that it will give $20 bucks to the TXMPA every time one of its members submits a film to the fest in its "Texas" category. If you're a local filmmaker and want to submit to the festival, it has extended submission deadlines. They were supposed to close last Friday, but now you have till tomorrow. Go here if you've got a home movie you think everyone else needs to see. Or, don't. --Robert Wilonsky