Texas Film Incentives Face Uncertainty in Legislature

Another battle is brewing in Austin over taxpayer-funded incentives for the film and video game industries.

Gov. Greg Abbott proposed to maintain $32 million over two years, but bills currently on the table only offer up $22 million and change. There's one bill that would do away with the incentives altogether.

“They filmed the last three Avengers movies and parts of Black Panther, some of the biggest films of the year, in Georgia because Georgia has such large incentives,” says Joshua Starnes, film critic for comingsoon.net .

The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program was slashed to $32 million during the 2016-17 budget cycle, following a peak of $95 million over the previous cycle. The number of projects fell from 290 to just 55 in the current cycle.

“It's to convince someone to come and build sound stages so that future films have a place to shoot when they want to come here,” says Starnes. “To have someone with experience to be a director of photography, a costume designer or set designer who is already here.”

The Republican Party of Texas platform calls for zero tax incentives for the film industry, suggesting that money would be better spent on a single mother or other Texans in need.

Starnes says what critics don't realize is these incentives spawn new business that stay in Texas and employ Texans.

“The guy who has regular employment as a film worker here in Texas stays here in Texas,” he says. “He's paying his rent to someone in Texas. He's sending his kids to a school and his money is being spent in local grocery stores and local businesses.”

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