Before Subsidizing Movies, States Scrutinize the Message

Meant to weave this into the Blues Brother posts from earlier this morning, but real life intervened1

I guess if you depend upon taxpayer money to make your film, you have to expect some restrictions and censorship. Make a film that the Tourism Board approves, in other words, or find your own financing.

Death of a President

“This film is unlikely to promote tourism in Michigan or to present or reflect Michigan in a positive light,” wrote Janet Lockwood, Michigan’s film commissioner. Ms. Lockwood particularly objected to “this extreme horror film’s subject matter, namely realistic cannibalism; the gruesome and graphically violent depictions described in the screenplay; and the explicit nature of the script.”

The easy money is not quite so easy any more.

Among the states that began underwriting film and television production with heavy subsidies over the past half-decade — 44 states had some sort of incentives by last year, 28 of them involving tax credits — at least a handful are giving new scrutiny to a question that was politely overlooked in the early excitement: What kind of films are taxpayers paying for?

(click to continue reading Before Subsidizing Movies, States Scrutinize the Message –


In Texas too, the Film Board is becoming more discerning as well

In Texas, the verdict is still out on “Machete,” a thriller from the filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, set for release by 20th Century Fox in September.

In May, Mr. Rodriguez used a mock trailer to promote the movie as a revenge story targeted at Arizona in the wake of its new anti-illegal immigrant law. Conservative bloggers and others then called on the Texas film commission to deny it support under a rule that says the state does not have to pay for projects that include “inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion.”

Bob Hudgins, the film commission’s director, said he had never yet denied financing to a film under the provision — though he warned the makers of a picture about the Waco raid that they need not apply because of what Mr. Hudgins saw as inaccuracies about the event and people connected with it.

Mr. Hudgins said would reserve judgment about “Machete” until he sees it. Texas, like many states, doesn’t pay its share until after a film is finished.

“This is tough for filmmakers to understand, but this is not about their right to make the movie,” Mr. Hudgins explained. “It’s about the public investing in it.”

In an e-mail message, Mr. Rodriguez, who is still finishing “Machete,” said the objections have come from people who do not know what is in the movie.

“The film is not about Texas specifically and it most certainly does not paint Texas in a negative light,” he wrote.

(click to continue reading Before Subsidizing Movies, States Scrutinize the Message –

Did the Medici have restrictions on their artists in Tuscany? Probably.

  1. If you haven’t noticed, I’m usually a lazy blogger, and if a post doesn’t get finished quickly, it usually never gets published. []

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