Film incentive lawsuit

I can’t wait to see what happens with this.

A lawsuit filed by Austin-based filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and the production company behind his film Machete accuses The Texas Film Commission of denying agreed-to financial incentives after the commission decided the film was “inappropriate.”

Machete Chop Shop Inc. says in a suit filed July 13 in Travis County that the Texas Film Commission backed out of partially reimbursing the cost of the film after coming under fire for the film’s violence and depiction of Texans.

Before the movie was released in September 2010, anti-immigration groups were upset over the film’s trailer, citing its violent imagery and Robert De Niro’s cartoonish role as a senator who kills illegal immigrants.

According to court documents, the Machete producers’ application for a grant under the Texas Moving Image Industry Program was approved in May 2009, one month after Gov. Rick Perry signed the program into law at Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios in Austin.

At the bill signing, Rodriguez announced that the bill would allow him to make films in Texas, including Machete.

The complaint states that former commission head Bob Hudgins verified that the script complied with content requirements and also claims that an attached email shows Hudgins’ approval of the incentive package.

Once filmmakers knew they had additional state funding they increased their budget, the complaint says, banking on a state contribution of nearly $8 million.

Had filmmakers not had this funding, they would have made the film elsewhere, said the complaint.

According to my archives, the Texas Film Commission denied granting the incentives for the film in December of 2010; Hudgins resigned from the Commission in November of 2010. The complaint states that no other film has been denied funds post-production. I have no information on that, but I do know that at least one other filmmaker was turned away for fear than his movie would not portray Texas in a positive light. I’m just going to add this to my list of reasons why the whole Texas Moving Image Industry Program idea is a bad one that should be scrapped.

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