The Austin Chronicle is not gonna take it anymore. This week’s cover story, by Joe O’Connell, is an overview of the (better, but still) lousy state of the Texas film production scene. Last year was a terrible year for local productions in the state, with “a mere $300,000 for the few days that A Mighty Heart landed in Austin.” O’Connell paints a picture of the men and women of the Texas crews who have been impacted by the state’s non-competitive incentives program. There are glimmers of hope, though, and champions like the Texas Film Commission’s Bob Hudgins leading the way:
The worst-kept secret in the Texas film scene is that an increase from a 5% to a 15% incentive is the goal for the 2009 Legislative session. Bob Hudgins, head of the Texas Film Commission, admits that the current incentive level is primarily attracting commercial shoots, which fall under the radar of Louisiana and New Mexico incentives, and is perhaps helping keep some television work here. The industry’s savior the last two years has been filming of the television shows Prison Break in the Dallas area and Friday Night Lights around Austin.
Despite incentives, Prison Break is moving production to Los Angeles this year to follow a new plotline. So far, 95 completed projects, including the two TV series, have applied for Texas film incentive funds for a pending payout of $6 million. Of the applications, 72 are for commercials. “The reason we haven’t used as much as we’ve had available,” Hudgins explains, “is frankly because our 5 percent is not competitive with what other states are doing.”