Gov. Rick Perry is proposing a $40 million increase to a $62 million two-year total for the state's film incentives program aimed at attracting Hollywood back to Texas. But the nonprofit watchdog group Texans for Public Justice says it's a losing proposition because the real winners will be corporations and corporate baddies, who are behind a number of television commercials that have already benefited from Texas' current 5% incentives program (film industry lobbyists have said they'll try to convince the Legislature to up that to 15% when it convenes in January). However, TPJ's logic is of the chicken-or-egg variety. TV commercials are the main beneficiaries of the Texas film incentives program so far, simply because the program offers too little to compete with states like Michigan, which gives up to 42% incentives, for major film projects. If they don't come to Texas, they don't qualify for incentives. The biggest recipients of Texas' film incentives so far, according to TPJ's own figures? The Austin-shot TV series Friday Night Lights, the formerly Dallas-shot series Prison Break (they vamoosed back to Los Angeles this year when the storyline took a new twist), Robert Rodriguez's film Shorts, an Austin-shot HBO biopic about Temple Grandin, and Terrence Malick's Tree of Life. You can see TPJ's full report (which cites an article by yours truly) here: www.tpj.org/watchyourassets/film. Stay tuned to this space for more on the film incentives story as it develops in the new year.
How does a short film become eligible for an Academy Award? By being named best short at an Oscar-approved film festival, a list that now includes the South by Southwest Film Festival. Speaking of SXSW, the opening-night film for the 2009 edition will be I Love You, Man, a comedy co-written and directed by John Hamburg and starring tiny dancer (www.videogum.com/archives/i-love-
paul-rudd/paul-rudd-dances-seductively-w_035781.html) Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, and Rashida Jones. It's about a guy who has no close friends and has to find someone to be his best man.
Ten years in the making, Kevin Triplett's documentary Blaze Foley Inside, about the late Austin singer-songwriter, is complete (somewhere between a rough cut and a final cut). He got oodles of help from director of photography Mike Nicholson, editor Rita Sanders, and too many more to name... Expect an Austin screening soon for Gary Chason's Everything or Nothing starring Natasha Melnick of Freaks and Geeks fame. It recently screened at the Southwest Alternative Media Project in Houston... Texas-shot Rockabilly Baby, written and directed by Ken Farmer, has been nominated for best drama and best actor (Denton Blane Everett) at the Trail Dance Film Festival upcoming in January in Oklahoma... Skateland, a Texas-set story of coming of age in an Eighties roller rink, recently finished a 30-day shoot in, yep, Louisiana. The good news is that its director, Anthony Burns; co-writer Brandon Freeman; and star Heath Freeman are all Texans, and postproduction will take place in Austin during the first half of 2009.
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