March 4, 2009
An overcast sky gave way to a beautiful day in Austin as hundreds of people in the moving image industries (film, video, gaming) converged on the Texas State Capitol showing support for legislation which, if passed, will help repair the severely damaged industry in our state. It was an eye-opening experience for me, a Director of Photography, as I spend most of my time working on small crew productions, with little interaction with others in my industry. So, to be on the steps of the Capitol with a nice crowd who all have similar interests helped me understand the scope of the industry and how each of us play a part in a vital economic engine of the state.
This is an important cause, which has ripple effects to a multitude of support businesses, including hotels, restaurants, rental car companies, and on and on. Statistics show that we have lost more than $500 million in revenue and more than 7000 jobs across the state in recent years. Why? Because other states, most notably Louisiana and New Mexico, instituted major tax incentives to lure big budget projects to their states, and it has worked. Many of our fellow Texans have had to move out of state or commute back and forth to these neighboring states in order to stay in business. Given our long history with film production in Texas, this is a crying shame.
See Films Shot in Texas since 1910
The Texas Motion Picture Alliance is a statewide grass roots organization that I am proud to be a part of, and it is only through their tireless efforts that this legislation exists and has a chance at reversing the trend of jobs and revenue related to moving image industries shifting to other states.
This is an effort which should concern ALL Texans, not just those of us working directly in the industry, because television, film and gaming production in the state brings more jobs in various related industries, and because we at one time were considered “the third coast” for film production, and we have seen it seep away. There are many projects where Texas would be the first choice for production, because of the great locations available, and well trained, well equipped crews, but we are losing out because of the incentives offered by our neighboring states, and others around the country. Once this business is completely gone, it will be hard to bring it back.
Please support HB 873 and SB 605. It’s important to all of us.
From Don Stokes, President of Texas Motion Picture Alliance:
“Our lobbying effort is a community affair. It will take the efforts of all of us in the industry to make the enhanced incentive program a reality. Lobby Day 2009 was a phenomenal success and certainly raised industry awareness among the legislators. It is my honor as President of TXMPA to be part of this immense team.
We participated in the initial hearing on HB 873 on Wednesday, March 4 during our Lobby Day efforts. The witnesses that spoke on our behalf did so passionately and from the heart. Their testimonies spoke to the problems facing our industry in Texas and to the solutions for bring the business back. The committee members listened and I believe understood our message. I think we will make it out of committee and look forward to the placement of our bill on the House Calendar. At this juncture I feel good about our legislation passing but I know there will be challenges ahead especially on the appropriation front.
I would like to thank everyone for their efforts. Without all of you we wouldn’t stand a chance.
From David Friedman:
“Throughout TXMPA Lobby Day 2009, it became evident that legislators from across Texas were gaining a better understanding of how the moving picture industry impacts the economy. Many legislators were already onboard; whereas, some legislators were early in their understanding. The force of everyone pulling in the same direction, starting with Governor Rick Perry and the 700+ constituents at the Capitol, was felt by all the legislators. It was hard to miss on the Senate floor, the House floor, and on the front lawn of the Capitol. It was a great day for the state of Texas and our economy will be better off for it. The bottom line; is, creating and retaining jobs in Texas. Our collective efforts on TXMPA Lobby Day 2009 contributed to the bottom line in a significant way. Many thanks to all who attended in person and to those that were there with us in spirit.”
David S. Friedman, TXMPA, North Texas Regional Representative
Tracy Ready is an independent Writer / Producer / Director of Photography based in Dallas, Texas