PLANO AND IRVING (CBS11) – A Texas legislator wants to get rid of any state incentives for the film industry as a result of the sexual assault and harassment allegations surrounding film executive Harvey Weinstein.
Republican Matt Shaheen, who represents Texas House of Representatives District 66, called for the abolishment of the Texas Film Commission.
“These are the people who will often lecture the rest of the United States on how to live,” said Shaheen.
He tried defunding the commission last legislative session, but failed. He expects his legislation he is currently crafting to succeed next session in 2019.
“If you look at our landscape, our cities, Texas has so much to offer,” said Shaheen from his office in Plano. “I really don’t believe we need the film commission. I think Texas will be just fine in this industry without it.”
But those involved in the industry feel it could have just the opposite impact on Texans.
“We would be forced to leave and these jobs here would be gone,” said John Schrimpf, who is a vice president at Panavision in Irving.
Schrimpf, who is also the president of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance, said for every dollar Texas spends on the program, $5.55 comes back.
“It is not welfare for Hollywood,” said Schrimpf.
Schrimpf’s crew at Panavision is currently preparing cameras for Robert Redford’s new movie that is based on a Texas prison escapee.
He said the crew is only in Texas for a few set-up shots, most of the movie was filmed in Ohio.
“They have a better incentive program and they have more money available,” said Schrimpf. “As does New Mexico, as does Louisiana, as does Georgia.”
The Texas Film Commission’s once $95 million incentive budget from four years ago, now sits at $22 million.
Shaheen said he does not want tax dollars funding a Hollywood culture that turned a blind eye to behaviors many have accused Weinstein of repeating.
“This is the failure of man,” said Schrimpf. “This has nothing to do with the movie business.”
Schrimpf and others involved in the movie and TV business feel defunding the program will not impact Tinseltown, only the Lone Star State.
“These are Texas workers and no they’re here. They have houses…they have kids, they’re paying taxes and unfortunately we’re draining them out of the state,” said Schrimpf.
In order for a production to qualify for the rebate, 70 percent of the crew must be from Texas and 60 percent of the shoot has to be filmed in the state.