Film News

Texas could be like New York

Incentive enough to keep Friday Night lit?

Texas could be like New York. That might not be the perfect message to give to a Texas House panel, but in this case, Brian O'Leary, vice president of NBC/Universal, was talking film incentives – not Yankee pride – when he described how they brought the film industry back to New York City. Keeping Friday Night Lights shooting in Austin may come down to whether Texas backs an incentive plan that would offer $10 million a year for two years, O'Leary told the Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee of the legislation proposed by Austin Rep. Dawnna Dukes. Projects would have to spend more than $10 million in Texas to receive up to $1.5 million back based on 20% of the wages they pay to Texans. Episodic television series that spend at least $10 million locally could get up to $2 million each. Could incentives trim the critically acclaimed but marginally rated show's bottom line enough for NBC to re-up for a second year of Austin shoots? "If the incentives were in effect today, it wouldn't be an issue," O'Leary said. "There are people with a real passion for this show. It's a matter of whether the economics work." The city of Austin is considering in April a plan that would rebate about $50,000 a year in fees for the production, Mayor Pro Tem Betty Dunkerley told the committee. Meanwhile, Dallas is in a similar battle to retain Prison Break for a second year of shooting. "We have an infrastructure in place and a history of men and women who want to work," said Hector Garcia, president of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance. The TXMPA is suggesting a larger $30 million a year incentive program is needed to compete with what is currently offered in states like New Mexico and Louisiana.

Notes from SXSW film

"Hobo With a Shotgun" won Robert Rodriguez's contest for the best fan fake grind-house trailer – Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's upcoming Grindhouse includes many fake trailers. Director Jason Eisener of Nova Scotia said his shoot was interrupted by a police officer who radioed in: "I got a guy covered with blood. I need backup!" Rodriguez said he would love one day to make two sequels to Once Upon a Time in Mexico featuring Johnny Depp's blind CIA operative and noted that presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton helped him get guns across the border into Mexico for the first film… Add slasher teen flick All the Boys Love Mandy Lane to the list of films mistaken for porn while shooting in Central Texas (Teeth and its vagina dentate remains at the top of the list). The situation was easily diffused, said director Jonathan Levine, who once interned for Miramax and now sees his Bastrop-shot film ready for release by the Weinstein Co. after a sold-out SXSW screening… Houston-shot romantic comedy Love and Mary filled not one but two theatres at the Dobie for its premiere. Many in the crowd were director Elizabeth Harrison's family members who inspired characters in the film… Richard Linklater's last slackerish "real" job was as a night bellman at an Austin hotel in 1988, he said while being inducted into the Austin Film Society's Texas Film Hall of Fame. Of his film career, he said, "I'm like a surfer who caught a wave at the right time. Austin is a place where you can have a crazy dream that becomes a reality."

And the rest...

Robert De Niro's Raging Bull regalia, Backdraft hot pants, and Meet the Fockers fashions will be on display starting Monday in the lobby of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. De Niro donated his collection to the center last year, and it's still being processed. This is a first look at what is to come. Look for free De Niro screenings as well, beginning with Bang the Drum Slowly at 7pm Monday in the Ransom Center's Prothro Theatre… Ellen Spiro has won the national Gracie Award for Troop 1500, her thought-provoking 2005 doc about a Girl Scout troop whose mothers are in a Gatesville prison. The award recognizes exemplary programming created for women, by women, and about women. She also will receive an Individual Achievement Award for Outstanding Directing at the American Women in Radio and Television gala in New York City on June 19.

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Texas film incentives, Friday Night Lights, Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

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