AUSTIN (KXAN) — This legislative session, lawmakers filed more than a dozen bills aiming to make the state more film-friendly. The Texas Media and Production Alliance (TXMPA) said this is the most bills of the sort it has seen in decades.
The bills incentivize film production in a few ways. Some focus on infrastructure investment – such as incentivizing building structures, like sound stages and production studios. Other bills, such as HB 4419 filed by Texas Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, aim to put Texas at the forefront of virtual production, a cutting-edge filmmaking technique – used in shows like ‘The Mandalorian.’ Some bills would also make it more financially sustainable for filmmakers to stay in the state long-term, according to Mindy Raymond, the communications director for TXMPA.
“We’ve had a historic session, the likes we’ve never seen before since the inception of our incentive program [in 2006],” Raymond said. “I think with the 19 bills that were brought forward this session, we’re truly seeing the impact that our industry has on the state of Texas,” she continued. “Legislators are really getting behind it now. And they’re seeing it as a big business and something that should come to Texas,” she said.
Raymond said there are a few reasons for the increased interest in the industry this legislative session. One is supporting people who work in film production who relocated to Texas in the last couple of years. But also the success of some acclaimed television shows, like “The Chosen” and Taylor Sheridan’s “1883,” have elucidated how valuable Texas-based film productions can be.
“With shows like ‘1883,’ when they film here [with] how many people they actually employ, it is massive – it is big business. [With] a show like ‘The Chosen,’ they spent $67 million in the state of Texas,” she said. “It’s these shows that then go global, so we’re also marketing Texas out to a global [audience].”
“People in the past might not have looked at our industry as one to support or one that could really bring in a diversification of the economy. They’re starting to put all eyes on Texas [film production],” she continued.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also appreciates what film production in the state can do for the economy.
“Governor Abbott continues working to ensure Texas remains competitive with other states and countries in supporting media production. Interest in bringing projects to Texas continues to grow, with rural communities seeing just as much production activity as our metroplexes. Since 2007, the media production industries in Texas have brought in more than $1.95 billion in revenue and created more than 183,000 production jobs. Texas has also been leading the way as a premier media destination with over 170 certified Film Friendly communities across the state ready to welcome media production. The Governor looks forward to working with the legislature this session to keep Texas’ film industry among the most competitive in the world,” Andrew Mahaleris, Abbott’s press secretary, said in a statement.
And some of the bills are having success this session. Rep. Goldman’s HB 4539, which makes it easier for filmmakers to get a grant under the moving image industry incentive program, and HB 4419, relating to the previously mentioned virtual production, were passed by the Texas House Monday. HB 3600, a bill that would give tax credits to film and television creators for producing in the state, will be voted on by the House Thursday.
Raymond said the bills filed this session make her optimistic that Texas can become a state where filmmakers want to produce their work.
“So often right now, our Texas stories are being told in Oklahoma, or they’re being told in New Mexico – we see it time and again,” she said. “Now it’s time for those stories to be told in Texas. So we’re hoping that happens this session.”