Film News

Incentives (except for any production that "portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion")!

Bruised Incentives Program Lives

Expect Gov. Rick Perry to very publicly sign into law the long-awaited film-incentives bill aimed at keeping the Lone Star State's film and video industry competitive. In the end, the Legislature approved the $20 million, two-year figure the industry requested and threw in an extra $2 million combined to create both a film-archive program spearheaded by Caroline Frick at the University of Texas at Austin and a statewide crew-training program and to administer the incentives program itself. The funding marked a major shift from 2005, when a program was approved but went completely unfunded. Film industry insiders rightfully are cheering the latest funded version that nearly succumbed to a thousand cuts in the Senate, which tried to reduce total funding to $10 million. The Senate did accomplish dropping the per-project total from 20% of wages spent to 5% of total spent for a maximum of $2 million per film. If 25% of the project is filmed outside of Austin or Dallas, an additional 1.25% is offered, down from an added 5%. Most troubling is a "content" provision that precludes funding for any project that "portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion." The good news? The final bill includes a rider that allows funding beyond the original outlay if justified financially. Also, "film" has been changed to "moving image" to allow a burgeoning video-game industry back into the mix. And the legislation is truly Texas with requirements that 80% of a project be shot in-state with 70% of the crew made up of Texans. The final verdict? It's a start and clearly would never have made it to Perry's desk without the industry's collective efforts through the Texas Motion Picture Alliance and a strong push from Rep. Dawnna Dukes of Austin. Bob Hudgins, state film commissioner, already has begun to receive inquiries, in particular from CBS. Could a third television series join Friday Night Lights and Prison Break in Texas' future? Stay turned.

Rodriguez Fond of 'Barbarella'

After flirting with remaking The Jetsons or Land of the Lost, Robert Rodriguez is instead going to direct a redo of 1968 Jane Fonda-starrer Barbarella. A script is being written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who both penned Casino Royale. Not surprisingly, Barbarella is another comic-book adaptation for Rodriguez – the first film was based on a French comic book written and illustrated by Jean-Claude Forest. "I love this iconic character and all that she represents, and I'm truly excited by the challenge of inviting a new audience into her universe," Rodriguez said in Variety. Universal has slated the film for a 2008 release.

And the Rest ...

The good news? CBS picked up Swingtown, the groovy Seventies-era show for which a pilot was lensed in Austin. The bad news? The series will be shot primarily in Los Angeles with some action in the Chicago area, where it is set. The intriguing news? Fox has picked up Anchorwoman, a semireality show about Tyler TV station KYTX, which brings in a former female model/pro wrestler to lead its newscast. The show's tester episodes air this month… The Upper Room, a confessional one-person show by the deaf actress known as Terrylene, is scouting Austin as the stage show aims for the big screen… Silly Bunny Pictures is casting for two gay spies in I'm Gonna Shoot, which is expected to shoot here early next year. Contact… Texas State history grad student Whitney Milam's doc, Sniper '66, about the Charles Whitman shootings, was honored as outstanding historical television documentary at the Telly Awards… Reel Women is again sponsoring the 48 Hour Film Project the weekend of June 22. Registration is now open to 26 Austin teams only at

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Texas film incentives, Dawnna Dukes, Whitney Milam, Robert Rodriguez

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