An Industry Perspective

Would Villa Muse revive Texas film industry? Not necessarily.

Would Villa Muse be the savior of the local economy and the Texas film industry? That's what its backers claim, and they present some impressive statistics to back it up. An economic-impact study performed for Villa Muse by the Waco-based Perryman Group estimated that, when completed, the development could generate anywhere from $258 million to $740 million net revenue and add from 40,000 to 110,000 jobs worth between $6.5 billion and $20.2 billion to the Central Texas economy. How did they reach those conclusions? According to Perryman Group founder and President Ray Perry­man: "We did a range of possible scenarios for it. One of them was, 'What if we got the average of 50 percent of what California got in the next wave of film making?'" Another worked from Texas attracting 8% of U.S. film production (its total share of the U.S. economy) rather than the 2% it currently attracts.

But other states are also aggressively pursuing film production by using major incentive programs. On its website, Villa Muse cites Texas Film Commission Director Bob Hudgins as "urging us to move at an accelerated – almost lightning – pace to complete Villa Muse Studios within two to three years because of these competitive forces." Hudgins argues that without a proven and effective incentive program, the studio at Villa Muse would face the same problems as the rest of the Texas film industry: a talent drain to other states with major incentive programs, which has already led to 20% of the state's technicians working in Louisiana and New Mex­ico. "One of the reasons they need to move quickly is that we're losing our capacity to compete, and the more people we lose, the harder it is for us to get that capacity back," said Hudgins. While Texas is one of the few states with three major production centers, if the state's new incentive program pays off and "business takes an up-turn, we'll need more facilities," he added. But as for Villa Muse's claims on its website, Hudgins suggests they may need a little context. "When I'm speaking, I'm primarily talking about a need for a really effective incentive program, which they're construing as relating to their project." As for the deadline, Hudgins said that Villa Muse "put themselves in a box as to the urgency with the city of Austin."

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Villa Muse, Perryman Group, Bob Hudgins, Texas Film Commission

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