Film News from joe
- FEBRUARY 4, 2005
BY JOE O'CONNELL
The news Texas film folk had been awaiting came quietly last week, but a
roar may be required to get it to fruition. Gov. Rick Perry didn't
mention it during his State of the State address, but his printed budget
lists as a priority item $20 million in incentives to attract more
projects. Another $10 million would go toward promoting the state's film
biz. Approval will require action by a Legislature that has been
reluctant on the issue in the past. "Texas has had a significant drop in
the number of films coming here because of the incentives being offered
in neighboring states," says the guv's spokesperson, Kathy Walt. Some 11
projects with budgets totaling $117.5 million scouted Texas last year
but chose to go to places like New Mexico and Louisiana, where
incentives greased the skids. Worse, an estimated 1,320 jobs were lost.
"The first thing a producer asks is 'what kind of incentives are
there?'" says Suzanne Quinn of Austin Studios, who has spent the past
two years watching our neighboring states start film industries
practically from scratch. "It took 10 to 20 years for Texas to develop
this. It's not something you can develop overnight." Gary Bond of the
Austin Film Office cites the untitled comedy Mike Judge shot in Austin
last year as the sort of project Texas might continue to lose if it
doesn't join the incentives trend. "I know for certain it wouldn't have
shot here if Mike Judge hadn't pushed so hard for it to," Bond says.
Now, the big question remains whether the film industry can speak loud
enough to get the attention of legislators whose eyes likely will be
focused on school finance. In other words, industry pros, the time has
come to get loud.
Punk Reality: Where do you turn when you want to spoof the courtroom
reality-show trend? Former Austin punk rockers, of course. Jesse
Sublett, formerly of the Skunks, and Tom Huckabee of the Huns, rivals in
the days when their bands had fans pogoing at Raul's nightclub, are
creative consultants for the syndicated Eye for Any Eye, which is going
from weekly to daily and will shoot about 80 episodes in Dallas
beginning any day now. Sublett terms the show, in which the loser faces
punishments like a thorough syruping and feathering, "trashy fun." It'll
soon air across the nation and in every major Texas city, except Austin,
with Kato Kaelin as host. Meanwhile, Houston is gearing up for its own
television courtroom drama launch in March from 20th Century Fox, which
is keeping details ultra quiet.
Hindi-Vision: Low-budget thriller Zero Hour has delayed shooting until
at least April, freeing up space at Austin Studios that will instead go
to director Dinesh Potluri and gang, who intend to shoot four to five
films in the coming year for the India market, all in the national
language of Hindi.
Award This: Marcus van Bavel and the folks at Austin-based DVFilm are
walking on air at word that Bill Plympton's animated short "Guard Dog"
is up for an Oscar. DVFilm took Plympton's signature pencil-on-paper
drawings and recorded them to film and also had a hand in soundtrack
preparation... "Life Against Memory," a short film by Evan Torchin and
James Webb of Austin has been nominated by Kevin Spacey's
TriggerStreet.com for the 2005 Budweiser Discovery Award.
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(Eye for an Eye started filming the day this column came out - i was in
a great episode on friday. dan)