Apr 17 2013
Filmworks: Enriched by Incentives, Major Hollywood Producer Says State Film Incentives “Need to Stop”
Gavin Polone, a major Hollywood producer, is calling for an end to state film incentive programs. His reasons for doing so will seem familiar to Film Works supporters, because we’ve made some of the same points on several occasions on our blog (see here, here and here for some examples). And while the argument Polone makes is virtually identical to ours, there is a critical difference because of where the message is coming from.
When Film Works argues against film incentive programs in other states, we do so on behalf of the tens of thousands of Californians harmed by runaway production. As a result, even if the arguments we make are correct, some critics will choose to ignore or discredit them as biased. But when a Hollywood producer who stands to benefit from incentive programs takes issue with them, well, that’s reason for everyone to stand up and take notice.
For Mr. Polone, whose producing credits include Zombieland and Curb Your Enthusiasm , the call for an end to state film incentives has undeniable credibility. Palone has benefited greatly (well into the millions) from film incentive programs. You have to respect someone willing to argue for the greater good against his or her own self interest.
In his article, Polone talked about the millions he has reaped from film incentive programs, while saying that “as a taxpayer” he opposes them because “they are bad economics”:
This week I am to have a meeting with a studio about a plan for producing a movie I have in development. When we start the discussions about where to shoot, the first thing discussed won’t be which location has the perfect look or the right caliber of local crew; rather, it will be about which state or province will pay us the most to bring our production to their territory. When I produced Zombieland, there was never a discussion of shooting the movie in California, where most of the action takes place and where one finds the best moviemaking infrastructure and crews. California had no state incentive at that time, so instead we shot the movie in Georgia and received about $4.5 million in tax credits. And as someone who has worked on and benefited from productions that have received funding from the Federal Government of Canada, the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba, the states of Georgia, Louisiana, New York, and California, as well as New York City, I still believe that these subsidies, both in the U.S. and abroad, need to stop. They’re bad economics, they don’t make a film better (at times I think they actually make them worse, since trying to make one location look like another is never as impressive as just going to the place the movie is set), and they’re a misuse of public funds, especially during this seemingly unending recession.
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