At the beginning of March, the New Mexico Film Office, Miramax, and El Rey Network announced that the third season of "From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series" will begin production in Albuquerque on March 14th, 2016.
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series filmed its first two seasons in Austin, Texas, where Rodriguez bases his production facility Troublemaker Studios.
The move to Albuquerque does not seem to be a surprise since New Mexico offers more comprehensive production incentives. With 30% film tax incentives Albuquerque has become a major production hub, especially for television productions.
Which begs me to ask the question:
Did Texas Film fail Robert Rodriguez and other Texas filmmakers?
Back in June of 2013, I published a blog article about how the Texas Film incentives were getting a massive financial boost of $95 million to bring for Film and Television production to the state of Texas.
This may have not been enough of an effort to keep our own native Texas filmmaker, Robert Rodriguez.
According to the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program tax rebates fall to 5% from 20% depending on the production budget. Tax incentives in Texas begin at 5% for $250,000 - $1 million production, 10% for $1 million - $3.5 million, and 20% for $3.5 million+. While this formula may work for feature films produced in the state of Texas it is not very friendly towards television productions since most television episodes have budgets from $1 million - $3.5 million (i.e. benefitting from the 10% bracket). In contrast, New Mexico allows studios to benefit from 25% tax incentives beginning at $300,000.
The state of Texas has already failed our fellow Texas filmmaker before.
Remember when Robert Rodriguez released his spin-off Grindhouse action flick "Machete" back in 2010?
Well, some of you may not know this, but the state of Texas actually DENIED Robert Rodriguez and his producers over $1 million in tax incentives due to the way the film portrayed Texans.
Forget the fact that the film is an upright parody, Texas politicians didn't appreciate the humor of the film.
In fact, one of the financiers of the "Machete" film sued the state of Texas.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, the lawsuit—filed by Machete Productions LLC—claims that the financier “spent millions of dollars in Texas and created hundreds of jobs for Texans producing the film,” and that the Film Commission “improperly denied the grant based on a perception that the film glorifies the role of a Mexican Federale (Mexican Federal Police Officer) and sympathizes with immigrants.”
Rodriguez came out and publicly stated the following:
“As always, I stand with Texas. “I will not be cooperating with this financier and do not approve of this lawsuit in any way, shape, or form”. -Robert Rodriguez
While Rodriguez did not condone the lawsuit, its difficult to ignore the fact that the state of Texas just isn't friendly to filmmakers and producers any more.
In fact, a Texas appeals court sent a very clear warning to any film and television producers who want to bring their productions to the state.
A Texas appeals court ruled Friday that the Texas Film Commission acted within its authority when it decided after the release of the film "Machete" to deny its producers state incentive funds because of the movie's negative portrayal of Texas.
Producers argued that they would not have filmed in Texas — and spent about $8 million in production wages and other expenses in the state — had the commission not granted initial approval after reading the film’s script. But in an opinion written by Justice Scott Field, the appeals court said the commission has the right to change its mind once it watches a completed project.
As if that decision wasn't bad enough, some lawmakers have thought about ending the film tax incentives program altogether. During the 2015 legislative session, lawmakers voted to cut the tax program’s two-year budget by more than 66 percent, from $95 million to $32 million for the 2016-2017 fiscal years.
From where we are standing as a state, it looks like the days of the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program are numbered .