Finally, free money is running out for state funded films. States are becoming selective about which filmmakers they finance. Marshall Moore, director of the Utah Film Commission, says his state will not fund pictures that you would not “take your governor to see.”
In Michigan, governors apparently do not like gore. Janet Lockwood, Michigan’s film commissioner, rejected a horror film from Andrew van den Houten entitled “The Woman,” explaining:
“This film is unlikely to promote tourism in Michigan or to present or reflect Michigan in a positive light.”
In Texas, Robert Rodriguez’ thriller “Machete” is still up for discussion. Texas film commissioner Bob Hudgins is reserving judgment until he sees the film. Hudgins explains:
“This is tough for filmmakers to understand, but this is not about their right to make the movie… It’s about the public investing in it.”
So, in other words, the state is deciding what is proper enough entertainment to deserve a state subsidy. That is troubling in and of itself, but the real question is why any state subsidizes film production in the first place.
Transferring taxpayer dollars to filmmakers is not rational economic strategy. Such projects rarely encourage job creation. The Tax Foundation points out that investing in movie production projects mostly attracts
“temporary jobs that are often transplanted from other states…”
Still, states make dramatic job creation claims about film subsidies. The Tax Foundation reviews a 2009 report by the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee and finds that
“Pennsylvania's film tax credit produces net benefits of $4.5 million by assuming that any business interacting with the film industry would not exist but for the credit.”
That, of course, is nonsense. Still, state bureaucrats are eager to give away your money. Ken Droz, the communications consultant for the Michigan Film Office, noted that Michigan had approved applicants only
“after measuring each against criteria that include the potential for creating economic development.”
Is that even possible? I don’t think so. Mr. Droz assures us that “[t]his is not an entitlement program.” He’s right. This is outright corporate welfare.