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Texas House Lawmakers Look At Film Incentive Program

Texas Film Commission

Yesterday a House select committee discussed the benefits to providing film companies incentives to operate in within the state.

The committee was designed to go through each of the state’s economic incentive programs with a fine-tooth comb to determine if the state is benefiting from these corporate relationships. That list included the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, which is managed by Heather Page, the director of the Texas Film Commission, a division of the governor’s office.

"Here’s a couple of highlights of what we’ve seen recently: NBC’s TV series 'Revolution' continues to shoot in Central Texas, TNT’s 'Dallas' continues to shoot in Dallas, TLC’s 'The Little People' continues to be shot in Houston,” Page said.

Page said while these production companies provide jobs and fuel economic growth for an area they also drive tourism by showing images of the state. Film companies like Warner Brothers Entertainment say Texas’ incentive program isn’t as competitive as those in other states but varied locations and good weather keeps them coming back to Texas.

State Rep. Rene Olivera, D-Brownsville, asked if content had ever been a problem for awarding incentives to film companies producing questionable material.

Page answered, "Since I have been here I have not seen a project to challenge the program. I'm not in the censorship game."

"I’m actually trying to help Heather because I want to make sure nothing surfaces out of this committee that indicates there is a real problem," Olivera said. "If we got a few nuts around the state that don’t like it when people laugh at a Texas joke, that’s their problem.”

Page said over the last few years the Texas film incentive program had been losing out to states like New Mexico and Louisiana. But she said last year the number of films coming to Texas increased to 658.

She said there isn't a Senate or House district that doesn't benefit from the state's film incentive program though 95% of the work takes place in Austin and in Dallas.