Friday Night Lights gets renewed for two more seasons, and the House passes the incentives bill. Are things looking up for the Texas film industry?
It Ain't Over Till the Funding Sings
It may be no coincidence that the NBC/DirecTV announcement of two more 13-episode seasons of Friday Night Lights to be almost definitely shot in Austin came as changes to the state's film incentives program eased through the House and ambled around the Senate, where it will surely find approval. The Legislature likes betting on a winner. But don't make any mistake thinking this fight is over. The enabling legislation, which made history as the very first bill to pass through the House, is primarily about adding flexibility to the film incentives program so that the state can actually compete with other states offering larger kickbacks. But the real battle looms over Gov. Rick Perry's announced goal of increasing two-year funding for the program from $20 million (plus another $2 million for administration and related programs) to $60 million. The trouble is, Perry is in the Lege doghouse after shifting $50 million from one program he oversees to another one for a Texas A&M University project. The Texas Film Commission oversees the film incentives program and is part of Perry's dominion, so you see this train wreck approaching. Rep. Jim Pitts, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, is talking of needs for additional oversight of all Perry's programs, including film. Expect Texas Motion Picture Alliance lobbyists to be working in overdrive in coming weeks as the funding battle begins in earnest.
And the Rest …
Bob Ray's animated, diaper-wearing simian Apesh!t is now on Playboy.com. All the sinister details at www.crashtoons.com... Austin filmmaker Duane Graves (The Wild Man of the Navidad) first came to my attention with Up Syndrome, a heartfelt doc about his childhood best pal, who happens to have Down syndrome. At long last it can be found on Netflix starting April 14... PJ Raval and Jay Hodges' doc Trinidad won the jury award at the recent Cleveland International Film Festival... "Cal Express," a new short from Austin filmmaker and musician Sergio Carvajal, screens at the Tribeca Film Festival later this month.
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