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Film News

By Joe O'Connell, May 8, 2009, Screens

The Facts Behind New Film Incentives

What exactly is this new Texas film incentives program Gov. Rick Perry recently signed into law, and how will it function? According to details just released by the Texas Film Commission, the program is two track: one offering up to a 15% rebate for in-state spends depending on the project's budget size and another offering up to 25% of payroll going to Texans. If at least a quarter of the filming is in "an underutilized or economically distressed area," an additional incentive of 2.5% for the first track and 4.5% for the second track is added. What still awaits the work of a House-Senate conference committee is just how much funding will go to the program, which is already assured $20 million over the next two years (with another $2 million for administration and associated programs including a state film archive). Perry and the Texas Motion Picture Alliance have been pushing for another $40 million. Meanwhile, Perry has also signed a bill sponsored by Sen. Kirk Watson creating media production development zones that will offer sales-tax rebates for film soundstages and other production facilities. What's the expected impact of all this film-industry wooing? Consider the slate of projects Robert Rodriguez laid out at the signing of the overall incentives program: the futuristic Nerverackers; Machete, a feature-length version of a fake movie trailer included in Grindhouse; Predators, a reboot of the Predator franchise; Sin City 2; and a big-screen version of television's The Jetsons.

Linklater Goes Maverick

Local filmmaking legend Richard Linklater will soon officially be a maverick, with the Honorary Maverick Award bestowed on him during the Woodstock Film Festival on Oct. 3. His response to the award speaks volumes about his independence and Texas-ness: "Although the term 'maverick' was greatly devalued in last year's election cycle, I'll humbly take on this honor and as a Texas filmmaker help reclaim the term in the tradition of the famous Texas cattleman Samuel Maverick who refused to brand his cattle. I would like to think it was for humane reasons, but the legend goes that he was just too lazy and uninterested in ranching to care. I think there may be an indie filmmaking analogy in there somewhere."

And the Rest …

Congrats to Austin transplant Andrew Bujalski who both recently obtained distribution for his Austin-shot indie feature Beeswax through the Cinema Guild and celebrated his marriage to Texas Monthly writer/novelist Karen Olsson this past weekend... Cameron Diaz is reportedly mulling starring in Warner Bros.' Bobbie Sue, based on a script by Austinites Owen Egerton and Chris Mass and University of Texas grad Russell Sharman... John Bryant's locally shot The Overbrook Brothers, which premiered at South by Southwest 09, is now headed to the Maryland Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival... "Four Minutes Till the End" from Bryan Ortiz is one of 14 films selected by the 48 Hour Film Project to screen in the Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner program on May 19.

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