Money for the Movies

The film production incentive bill is getting closer to being passed - but who will be excluded?

Film buffs will be keeping a close eye on the Senate this week as Senate Bill 782, the Moving Image Industry Incentive Program bill, works its way through the finance committee. Everyone from the Motion Picture Association of America to the Austin Film Society to the Omni Hotel agrees that it's a good thing (only rabid free-marketers Americans for Prosperity and anti-business-tax advocates Texans for Fiscal Responsibility thought it was a bad idea), but its cash-bonus for out-of-state productions isn't for everyone.

The bill excludes subsidies for porn (no surprise there) but the more forward-thinking will notice that, somewhere between the original introduced bill and the committee substitute, digital interactive media productions were dropped from the program - bad news for the technologically minded creatives out there.

Even more worrying may be Chair Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, idly wondered whether the money should go for films that might portray Texas in a bad light. (Does he mean everyone-is-a-homicidal-nutter, Texas Chainsaw Massacre-style bad light or flat-out-unfunny, Man of the House-style bad light?) Then Ogden raised the controversy around Andres Serrano's famous Piss Christ (but seemed leery of naming it out loud) and the National Endowment for the Arts' right to not fund what it doesn't like.

Just to show how in-touch the committee may be culturally: Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, getting Michael Moore confused with Mike Myers. At least he knew he wasn't thinking about "the Austin Powers guy." Of course, he may have meant the Halloween maniac.

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