It’s all money to them. Why wouldn’t they think the state should provide more funding for them?
A Warner Bros. executive told a panel of Texas lawmakers they would have to pony up more cash for film industry incentives if they wanted to be in the movie business.
“The Texas movie industry incentive program … is not as competitive as many other jurisdictions,” said Warner Bros. Entertainment Vice President Michael Walbrecht. “Increasing the overall budget provided each year would probably draw more large-budget feature films.”
During his remarks before the House Select Committee on Economic Development Incentives, Walbrecht told the panel’s 13 members Texas was doing “just enough” to get some filmmakers to come to the state.
Texas’ programs are far surpassed by much more enticing incentives in states like Louisiana, he added, saying the Lone Star State isn’t even on the list of states feature filmmakers go to as a default.
“Without the incentive, these productions would probably not be able to choose Texas,” Walbrecht said.
The panel is holding a series of meetings before the 2015 session and is charged with looking at the state’s myriad economic development incentive programs, from the “deal-closing” Texas Enterprise Fund to local tax rebates.
Earlier Wednesday, Texas Film Commission Director Heather Page said the amount of money available through the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program is a moving target, but currently sits around $32 million. The program’s return on investment to date stands at 658 percent, she added.
Boy, I’d love to see the accounting on that. We know how accurate Hollywood accounting can be. Speaking of which, the state of California is boosting its film credit program to $400 million per year, with fewer constraints. We can’t let ourselves get beaten by California, can we? My opinion on this hasn’t changed much in recent years. If we’re going to throw money at movie studios to try to “incentivize” them to do their filming here, we should at least be honest about it.