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Texas Losing Competition For Movie Makers
It's almost a wrap on the South by Southwest Film Festival. Nine star-studded days of red carpet movie premieres and screenings end on Saturday. But, a battle is brewing at the state capitol over whether lawmakers should increase funding for the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program that could lure more movie makers to Texas.
The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program currently gets $32 million dollars in state funding. The Texas Film Commission wants that amount raised to $35 million dollars. That would still be less than what some states, like Louisiana, are offering.
SXSW proves that Texas is a very appealing place to premiere movies, but it's becoming a less appealing place to make them.
"It's a challenge," said director Richard Linklater.
The director of Dazed and Confused, Bernie and Slacker says Texas is going to have to pay-up if it wants to continue to play a leading role in the film industry.
"They were trying to send him (director Robert Rodriguez) to Louisiana for Sin City 2. He's shooting here (Texas), but he had to jump through tremendous hoops," said Linklater.
That loyalty is rare in the industry. And, with 40 states offering some type of financial incentive to movie makers, Texas is losing ground.
"You'll save $5 million more if you go to Louisiana. It's hard to say no. The more we can be more competitive, the easier it will be to keep movies here," said Rodriguez.
During the last legislative session Texas lawmakers cut in half the amount of incentives available to movie makers. At the same time Louisiana and other states were rolling out the red carpet.
"New York, you can get a good rebate, Canada, North Carolina, New Mexico," listed director Rob Reiner.
The director of The Princess Bride and Stand by Me says Texas needs to get back on the A-list.
"I'd love to see Texas be competitive because it's such a great mecca for artists," said Reiner.
In 2010, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, 38 movies and 17 TV series were filmed in Texas. In 2011 those numbers dropped to 16 movies and 15 TV series.
So while many films premiere in Austin, those who walk the red carpet say Texas has to decide if it wants to be a marquee state when it comes to making them.
By Bettie Cross