Monday, April 02, 2007

Act TODAY for Texas film and interactive media ...

Don't let the flippancy of my previous post invalidate the importance of this one.

There's legislation up for vote tomorrow (Tuesday, April 3) at 10 a.m. (House Bill 1634), which is a bill to create a state film incentive program for Texas. Texas vitally needs this legislation to maintain its competitive edge as a viable commercial haven for the creation of film, interactive, and other creative endeavors.

Here's why I think it's important, and how you can make a difference in 10 minutes if you act today (if you feel so led).

If you're up to speed on the incentives effort, skip to the bottom of this post for action steps.

When I was at the Austin Convention Center for SXSW last month, I picked up very nice fliers for film and interactive (PC and video game) incentive programs for Georgia, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Louisiana. But nothing from Texas.

Texas is horribly behind on the incentives effort when compared to other states. This is because it has relied too heavily on the "Texas is a cool place in which to work" mantra. That's true, but if you're a studio looking at multimillion dollar projects, that doesn't translate into bottom-line savings.

In addition, Texas, in my mind, has long leaned on the excuse Texas can not compete on the incentives front because it does not have a state income tax. While this can make things challenging, there are several other available incentives (sales tax, hospitality taxes, and so on), and legislation can provide further incentive opportunities.

Legislation like House Bill 1634.

There are two things I try not to do on the political front.

The first is to push something I believe in in opposition to something else -- this legislation is important for Texas, not because I'm trying to hurt other states' economic efforts. (Besides, it's better to stand for something, rather than in opposition to something; it creates more personal convictional stability, IMHO).

Secondly, other than my high-level summary above, I'm not going to tell you what the bill is about. If you're responding to this particular post, you're likely sharp enough to understand the bill. You can read the full text here to see if you have any concerns.

The bill is not perfect, and there are things I would change (largely the bill's exclusion of eligibility for interactive media projects given an ESRB rating of "Mature" -- in essence, a 1980s "R" rating), but it's a solid start, and (as I said above), well past due.

Please read the bill. If you have questions, you can contact Hector Garcia (TXMPA president) at hectorg576["at" symbol]aol[dot]com or Todd Sims (TXMPA board member and Legislative Chair) ntsims["at" symbol]newworldpictures[dot]com. You can also get information from the Texas Motion Picture Alliance Website.

Here's how you can do something today. It will take you 5-10 minutes, tops.

  1. Read the bill.
  2. Call you State Representative (not Senator) and ask them to consider voting "yes" on HB 1634.
  3. Do not call State Representative Dawnna Dukes (who authored the legislation) or official joint and co-authors of the bill Reps. Strama, Giddings, Isett, Hilderbran, Anchia, Anderson, Bailey, Berman, Castro, Farrar, Howard, Donna, Hughes, Naishtat, Ortiz, Jr., and Zerwas (they are all on record in support of the bill).
  4. Find your State Representative at
    a. Enter your home address.
    b. Change the "District Type" drop-down box to "House".
    Click the "Submit" button.
    c. Call the 512-463-xxxx number.

Here are the TXMPA's suggestions for your call:

  • "Hello, my name is __________ . I’m a constituent of Rep. __________ and I’m calling to ask him/her to please consider voting YES for HB 1634 by Representative Dawnna Dukes."
  • "HB 1634 is on the House Calendar for Tuesday (the 3rd) and I wanted to let him/her know that a constituent of theirs is very supportive of HB 1634."
  • "Is there a staffer in the office I should speak to about the issue or may I ask you to please let Rep. __________ know that one of their constituents called to respectfully request he/she vote YES for HB 1634?"
  • "Thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate your help. Please let the Representative know they can call me at (give your phone number) if they want to talk about the bill or ask how it affects their district."
Here's to bringing more work to Texas ...

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