Monday, May 9, 2011

Film incentives the right and the wrong

This is actually in both Blogs because well, it's important.
Seems OT but it either goes here or in the sound BLOG and since it's a VERY hot item here in the big D here is where it goes.

Michigan may do away (essentially) with it's film incentives. California got a touch but it's getting fought so?

Since I have moved to MI I'll focus on the logistics here but this really applies to all states.

There are two papers that get dragged out and held up to prove film incentives cost money.

The first is this one Film Incentives Report

It's by the "Tax Foundation" which used to be reputable but then got bought by the Heritage foundation. They fired all the economists and it now is used to churn out what ever report they want to support their causes.

The second one is State film subsidies

A report by a supposedly OK outfit named Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

However it reads like a rewrite of the first and and uses the same erroneous arguments. So?

There are a few points that the folks supporting the incentives can't seem to get across to the general public. The anti incentives folks have set the argument and the pro folks are doing what the dems have done for years, defend against stupid accusations.

It seems to be a right wing thing to go after film incentives and the only reason I can think of is it's easy press to link them to.

Hollywood "liberals", which becomes a kind of code for all of "those people".

The arguments all come down to:

And how "we" should not be paying "them" all this money.
And all the best jobs go out of state.

The implication is that the state is giving money out of it's treasury to subsides the film industry.

The thing is EVEN IF the incentives all went to "those people" the states still make a bunch of money.

But we are talking TAX incentives.
The production pays a stack of cash in taxes to the state and when all the bookkeeping is done (a year or two down the pike) the production gets a refund.

It's not a subsidy it's a tax refund.

The "money" the state pays to the production is a slice of what the production payed to the state in the first place.

The only way this ends up costing the state anything is if you assume that all the films would have shot there anyway. Judging by the number of projects that pulled out of Michigan on the threat of the incentives getting curtailed that is an obviously wrong assumption for just about any state.

And lets get back to "those people". Yes "those Hollywood" types are going to be the headliners but they are also a drop in the bucket of film jobs.

I have news for you the majority of people in the film biz are not any of "those people". Hollywood power is smack in the middle of Orange County. One of the most conservative areas in the US. Hollywood was home to Charlton Heston and Ronald Reagan.

What is very ironic is that most of the jobs on a film are trades jobs. Carpenters, painters, electricians, metal workers, Teamsters, etc. A lot of these folks are very blue collar and pretty conservative. Many of the "flaming liberals" that get dragged out are actors. Actors are generally 1%-5% of the people working on a film. I have met more NRA members in film than ACLU members.

It's cracking me up the spell checker keeps wanting to change Charlton into Charlatan. But I digress.

For a state with incentives this could mean hundreds of jobs hired locally. And true IF you don't have local talent in the "best job" category then your not going to get many of those jobs.

But that is exactly why the state gives out "tax credits" to all kinds of businesses and even out right subsides. To grow your local talent pool and to keep businesses in your state.

And with out the incentives you don't even get the "worst jobs" (which in film generally pay pretty darn good).

Lets take a look at Michigan's budget. Now it has been claimed that Michigan "paid out" $100,000,000 in incentives. If that is true then they collected $238,095,238 in taxes, hung on to them for a year or so and then kept $138,095,238.

i.e. Michigan MADE 138,095,238, it didn't loose $100,000,000.

Look at it this way if you pay me a dollar and eventually I have to give you 42 cents back who is benefiting? I mean if the state wants to make the reverse deal with me I'm game. You can use the comments to tell me who to send the bill to.

But lets look at the bigger picture. Since we are outraged that those liberals are taking all that money to create jobs, who else might be sucking at the public teat? How much does Michigan actually pay out in "tax credits"?

Well it looks like that number is $1,351,500,000.

Here is the budget report.
Budget Report

So the state of Michigan is subsidizing companies to the tune of over one and a third Billion dollars and the only money the want to cut is one hundred mill that brings in film jobs.

I don't know where all the credits go. I'm sure none of it goes to companies that out sourced jobs to other countries. Right, and I just bought a hunk of the Brooklyn bridge.

If you think about it film production is one of the few businesses that can't out source, unless it moves the whole shebang.

OK I'm done. If someone is trying to kill incentives where you live use this info and shove it where it counts.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

OK this is sort of an ad

Not really but IF you own a Mac then you NEED to own this little utility.
Cocktail is 50% off for the weekend
It uses utilities that are built into the OS but very hard to get to on your own do all kinds of important maintenance tasks that none of us ever get around to doing.

You can use it on a regular basis or be lazy like me and just run it when things start to feel a bit off. Apps running slow, stuff crashing that didn't. 99% of the time Cocktail will fix it, and for $10 it's worth getting now, you will want/need to get it or something similar eventually and at full price it's the frugal choice.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Friday, November 12, 2010

Three roads to the End

An issue that has come up on a number of forums I'm on is the problem with answers to questions coming from very different perspectives.
I'm going to break down the "community" into three broad categories.
Commercial - public
Commercial - private

Those are kind of broad but I think they are valid.
Commercial - Public are those film and media projects that are aimed at selling to the public at large. You are going to have a product good enough that folks who know nothing about your project except the "buzz" are willing to pay to see it.

Commercial - private are projects that are pre sold. That would be industrials, even videography, documentaries that are grant funded (though this becomes one of the problem crossover situations, since you do eventually want people to come and see your film).

Non-Commercial are projects like in house films, home movies, student films, etc. This is a category that has a lot of crossover (well more like wanta be crossover) projects.

The problem that comes up is someone needs help with X and three different people give opposing advice and then start to argue over the merits of it leaving the OP in the dark. Many times they are all correct, but only from their orientation.

This comes up a lot in post sound questions because of the different routes the three take to final delivery.

In the Commercial - Public world tasks are all divided up and specialists do everything. It's really the only way to get to the polish of what Hollywood puts out. I did say "Polish" not "Quality". A high polish not so great quality film will out sell a low polish high quality film every time. It's very hard to see quality if it's just not well put together. You wouldn't hire an electrician to do your plumbing, unless you had to.

In the Commercial - Private world your selling before you shoot. You know what is important to the client and what isn't. Your focus is much more selective and your "public" is paying up front so if they are not willing to pay for X it's not going to cost you at the box office. These tend to be small tight crews with a lot of mixed of roles. This is not generally a category of many crossovers to the "big screen" Commercial - Public category.

In the Non- Commercial world there is chaos right now. It was a category that had just about a zero crossover ratio and now has a lot of crossover potential. The workflow used to be kind of a stripped down version of the Commercial - Private one with Very small crews. With the new cameras and the power of modern computers this category has the potential to make the move. BUT it generally doesn't have the orientation. If you want to compete with the big boys you need to bring polish to your projects. And that means you need to start bringing in specialists.

It gets very tricky because you can't afford to do it the "Hollywood" way,but you need to get a "Hollywood" polish. It can be done and I have posted about this before. On the visual side you can read Stu Maskowitz's blog/ books etc. The big hurdle is your orientation. You need to set some high standards and get over the fact that your making a movie. I know it's cool but gloat when it's done. Right now you need to be hypercritical of your polish. I'm going to assume you have the quality because there is no point polishing a turd. If you botched it up chalk it up as a learning tool and start your next film. When your rich and famous you can revisit and release your "directors cut", but right now you need to get a quality polished film out there.

So when I say you need to replace all the sounds and scrub your dialog and it's going to take you at least 40 tracks of sound... I'm talking from my orientation which is pretty firmly in the Commercial - Public world.

If your doing a student film that is more of a test out the camera thing or a learning how to direct short, you most certainly don't need all that. If your shooting a wedding video you, as picture editor, should go ahead and clean up the tracks and do whatever makes it work. You are not sending this to audio post, do what works for where you are.

But if your a crossover want to be, don't ask what plugin is going to make your film sound like a Hollywood blockbuster. There isn't one. You need to bring in the pro's or at least pro's of the future. You need to set your bar very high on the polish and that means sound also.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010