Wednesday, June 12, 2013

More on the "Connecticut Film Grant Program"

It's not a real thing yet, it's just what it should be called.

The extinct Connecticut film tax credit was a great idea but poorly executed. I'll use the following example to prove my point:

The film "Righteous Kill" (2008) was shot partially in Connecticut. In fact, the interior bar scenes of that film were shot at the Star bar, about a mile from my home. I visited the set, but didn't get to see some of the stellar cast that included Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino.

I'm not sure if they employed a single person from Connecticut in their crew, and the craft services company was based in New York even though there were many local caterers who would have jumped at the chance to work for a major picture. The film, which was a significant box office flop, received over $12,000,000 from Connecticut.

Yes. Over 12 million dollars!

Now, here's the way that amount of money could have been much better spent:

Create a program that provides 50% of the budget of an indie film shot exclusively in Connecticut, with at least half the employees being local crew. And all the associated services like equipment rental and support services must be given to Connecticut businesses with the right of first refusal. If there's something we can't do, then you can hire someone from out of state.

Limit the budgets under this program to say $200,000 or less per film. When the production manages to raise half their projected budget, the state kicks in with the other half.

So, if someone writes the 2013 equivalent of "Slacker" (1991) or "Clerks" (1994) with a budget of say $90,000, they need to show proof that they raised $45K already, and have agreements with local industry-trained workers (say, probably FITP grads would fill the bill!), and sign a contract to hire Connecticut services and rentals for their picture, ONLY then would the state kick in the other half, $45K in this example, and production will begin.

This works because it takes the money the state would otherwise give to huge out-of-state corporations and gives it to indie filmmakers who will then, by agreement, dump the money DIRECTLY BACK INTO OUR LOCAL ECONOMY!

The $12,000,000 spent on that flop could easily fund anywhere up to 75 or 100 local indie films, especially considering that some incredible films have been produced for well under $80,000. And with the state encouraging local cinemas to show these films, Connecticut has the potential to create a living, thriving, eclectic indie film culture and help our state become a force in the indie world that could rival places like Seattle and Austin.

And this thriving film industry would be a tremendous incentive to keep our college grads here IN Connecticut, where they can add to the economy rather than expatriating to those places that have a more agreeable creative climate. Think how much business it would bring to Connecticut if we could create a festival that would rival South By Southwest?

How can we get a legislator to voice this idea in the capitol? Do any of you folks still read this blog? Please let me know your thoughts.

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