OK, here’s my 2¢ about the political hysteria against Hollywood movies and state incentives used to entice movies to their states:
A political contingent shows disdain toward Hollywood, and therefore incentive plans, and does it through such pronouncements as those from e21, which, of course, says it’s “nonpartisan” but which is openly hostile toward any existing government action and on the path of the tea party and its positions. Likewise, such political contingent will dismiss the research of legitimate organizations such as EY (formerly Ernst & Young Accounting) while wholly believing in the partisan blathering of any number of ad-hoc websites, most of which don’t understand filmmaking and the choices for spending production dollars.
The thing is, when looking beyond the partisan Hollywood bashing, I am not a fan of the proliferation of the myriad state incentive plans. Of course, I am also not a fan of the political posturing that is against Hollywood for a wrongly perceived liberal bent and a wrongly perceived everyman millionaires.
What used to be a valid business strategy — not much different than those benefits given companies such as Walmart to entice them to come into a city, or to sports teams to build a stadium, or to auto makers to attract them to one area over another, etc. — has been polluted by hyper-politicizing based on our society’s tailspin into hyper-partisanship and the loud clanking drumbeat against “liberal Hollywood.” And, there have even been a couple incidents of flat-out wrongdoing by some of the principles offering the incentives–corruption, who woulda thunk?? (Yes, some think that’s only Hollywood. Yep.)
Nonetheless, the overlooked fact about the incentive programs is this: IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE INCENTIVES, NOT ONE SINGLE PENNY WOULD BE SPENT BY ANY PRODUCER IN ALMOST ANY OF THOSE LOCATIONS. Period. The restaurants would not feed the crew, the hotels would not house the stars, the airlines would not fly everybody, the gift shops would not sell souvenirs to grips, the rental car companies would not rent any cars to any of the people responsible for a movie, the residents would not gawk at the stars and then brag in their tourist materials that the movie had been made there, etc., etc.
Hollywood would rather stay in beautiful California where we live and make our movies here.
For instance, Hollywood would not be in Louisiana except the state benefited from especially generous movie-making incentives in an effort to help them rebuild after Katrina (the IRS Section 181 provisions included expanded benefits to encourage shooting in Louisiana). It worked for them. Maybe it doesn’t work as well for everyone, but that’s the risk of business. If you’re an American, you understand that you have to take risks in order to get rewards, whether a cafe owner risks opening another location, a producer risks which movie to make and where to make it, or a city risks offering incentives to try to build a new filmmaking industry (which, by the way, means the capability to make corporate videos, commercials, web episodes, and many other productions besides “Hollywood movies”).
Raging that incentives are liberal and therefore must be failures is not changing the fact that they may work: they bring movie production to areas where movies would not be produced if not for those incentives. Those people look at incentives as if it were cash being shoveled into the pockets of rich movie people, ignoring the fact that lots of money must first be spent before any tax benefits — a percentage of the money spent — can be accrued by the production company. And, the people working on the movies are trying to earn a living, just as you are. The $20 million star is a myth, and even the highest paid star is just one person, while a few hundred people working on the movie are working for occasional union wages or less. And, they’ve been yanked from their homes to go to some far-away little town because of your tax incentives.
So, rage against the liberal tyranny, please! Kill all the incentive programs, please! Even killing them for wrong, reactionary reasons will at least help Hollywood stay in Hollywood. Thank you, everyone who believes in the evil liberal millionaire Hollywood! Kill your tax incentive plans so we can stay in OUR homes and work, hire OUR neighbors, eat in OUR restaurants, rent OUR equipment, and stay with OUR families.
Motion pictures lured away from Hollywood by tax incentive programs