Fine Print

A closer look at Texas film incentives

Now that the film-incentives bill has been signed into law, and productions are beginning to reap its rewards, the concern for interested filmmakers is how to interpret the bill's mysterious late-added proviso stating that "the office ... may deny an application because of inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion." [italics added for emphasis]

The Chronicle has obtained a copy of a classified State Film Office memo titled "Guidelines Concerning Appropriate Content and Positive Portrayals of Texas and Texans as They Relate to the Acquisition of State Incentives" and hereby makes that document public in an effort to provide aspiring filmmakers a better understanding of this mysterious clause and, consequently, a smoother road to state-subsidized artistic glory.

1) No movies that imply Texans commit acts of violence with chain saws and/or other gas-powered cutting and/or carving devices will receive financial incentives as per the stated proviso. In addition, the wearing of human skin not one's own shall be frowned upon by the Office, as will any and all "odd" family members, housemates, or other Texans filmed in dark abattoirs and/or basements, pursuant to standards agreed upon in House Bill 1309 and approved by the state Senate in absentia, etc., e.g., quid pro quo.

2) No incentives shall be granted to movies implying that certain whorehouses in Texas, regardless of size, are better than others; heretofore, all references to whore­houses in films seeking financial incentives will make explicit the parity of all said houses in all parts of Texas, while at the same time making explicit that no such houses actually exist or existed in Texas and that no Texas male resident would patronize such houses even if they did.

3) Any "historical" films that imply that the founders of the State of Texas were actually money-mad oil barons and/or cattle rustlers consumed by their insecurities, ruined by their own avarice, and/or given to drunken anti-Mexican ranting -- especially those starring men later found to be A) homosexuals, B) method actors, C) Yankees, D) queers, E) Dennis Hopper, or F) any combination thereof -- will be rejected for consideration by the Office.

4) (a) All movies shot in the city of Austin on limited budgets shall hereby be ineligible for State incentives, as all movies shot in the city of Austin on limited budgets promote the theory that the citizens of Austin spend the majority of their time under the influence of various illegal substances while talking aimlessly about topics hereby frowned upon by the Office.

(b) Those topics shall include, but are not limited to: philosophy, theology, spirituality, art, music, life, other planets, life on other planets, friends, locations, last names, hair color, height, automobiles, lepidopterology, astrology, and fennel.

(c) Pursuant to the above, all characters in movies proposed by production companies seeking incentives should have jobs.

(d) And get haircuts.

(e) No movies shall be considered for incen­tives whose directors smell of marijuana.

5) Any mention of how hot Texas is shall be cause for rejection of incentive applications. References, however, to how large Texas is are encouraged.

6) No mention shall be made of the Alamo, nor of any other location inside or outside Texas where it is implied that Texans were defeated in battle; lost a war; died involuntarily by another's hand; died voluntarily by their own hands; died anywhere but in their own beds at a ripe old age after a good, long, healthy life spent doing good, long, healthy things; or lost to Mexicans at anything.

7) (a) No incentives shall be granted to movies that promote unfounded theories stating that former presidents of the United States ever died within the borders of Texas, whether by gunshot, stabbing, consumption, heartache, jaundice, Jumping Frenchman Disorder, or government-instituted, anti-communist, pro-Mafia conspiracies. The Office advises that to increase the probability of securing incentives, Production Companies would be wise to acknowledge that people in Texas don't die and therefore to set the death scenes of any and all presidents, American or otherwise, in either Oklahoma or Arkansas.

(b) Preferably Arkansas.

8) (a) Any film -- including those already released -- featuring a young, naked, sexually enthusiastic Cybill Shepherd will be considered a strong candidate for incentives by the Office. Members of the jury board of the Office request that all such movies be sent immediately, along with any edited and/or rejected footage, to the above address for closer inspection pursuant to the guidelines thus far explicated.

(b) DVDs of said footage will also be accepted.

(c) The Office cannot guarantee the return of said DVDs received during the incentive-request process.

(d) Sorry.

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