Local Film Commissions Hoping To Catch up To Louisiana

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The legislative session is only a month away, and Rick Ferguson knows exactly what he wants out of it -- a plan to help Texas, and Houston especially, catch up to the movie-making boom going on in Louisiana.

Texas has fallen behind states like Louisiana and Michigan when it comes to offering financial incentives to companies seeking filming locations.

"Shreveport -- who would have thought, three years ago, that Shreveport, Louisiana would become a film mecca? Go figure, man," he tells Hair Balls. (Among other films, a stadium in Shreveport stood in for Arlington Stadium in Oliver Stone's W.)

Some states can be more flexible than Texas because they have state income taxes, which offer more opportunities for deals.

Ferguson, who heads the Houston Film Commission and the Texas Association of Film commissions, wants to bump Texas's "rebate" to filmmakers to 15 percent from its current five percent.

Essentially, if a film company spends $10 million on a production in Texas, they'd eventually get a check from the state for $1.5 million. (In Louisiana, the percentage is 25 percent; in Michigan it's a whopping 42 percent.)

Ferguson would like a further bump for companies filming in Houston (naturally), but that seems less likely.

There's no real organized opposition to the move, but Ferguson worries that lawmakers may be hesitant to mess with finances in the current uncertain climate.

"Any kind of question, if it arises, will be with regards to the financial state of the state itself, not anything specific to film production," he says.

-- Richard Connelly

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