Local filmmakers band together to boost film incentives.

October 9, 2016

EL PASO, Texas - Local filmmakers are banding together to get the city to boost film incentives.

Despite having approved a motion in May that would help boost El Paso's economy--filmmakers are finding themselves having to make their voices heard yet again.

 

In May, council voted unanimously to get the city's lobbying team to draft legislation and get it to pass.

But that all changed in September, when council voted to only allow lobbyists to jump on board with an existing bill, introduced by another city, making it increasingly difficult for filmmakers to expand on opportunities right here at home.

 

"This is not just an entertainment business, it's not just a hobby, when people think of film, they think oh yea it's just tv, and somehow it just magically happens to be on air. It's a lot of work that goes into it," Doublescope Studios filmmaker J.J Nunez said.

 

Nunez and dozens of other filmmakers plan to be at city council's meeting next week to put film incentives back on the table. City Rep Peter Svarzbein, who is a film advocate, introduced the original motion, and says incentives translate to real dollars.

 

"When we talk about dollars for film, it's not grips, it's not cinematographers or directors or producers that are getting those dollars," said Svarzbein.

"It's hotels that are being booked for weeks and months at a time because of productions. It's carpenters, it's caterers, it's lawyers who are having to deal with different bills and different contracts," he added.

MindWarp filmmaker Carlos Corral says that's what the city saw in 2012--when an independent feature film called "Unlimited" was shot in El Paso.

Production crews, which stayed for at least six weeks, left $500,000 in the city, but the funding for incentives in Texas has been lowered dramatically.

"Back in 2014, we had an incentive budget of 95 million. That was slashed to 32 million, with the new legislature that came in 2016. We're not even competing anymore when it comes to being a film state. With only 32 million, we can't even hold a candle to New Mexico," Corral said.

That is potentially driving homegrown talent out of state to places like Albuquerque and L.A.

"I have worked with so many people that have so much talent and so much dedication, it's just so frustrating to be in a city that there's no opportunity to grow," Nunez said.

 

Nunez says the talent is here, but the city needs to make sure it stays here.

"More than just numbers, it's a way of life and a lot of people here in town are very talented, experienced and I think we should cater to that," Nunez said.

Calls from ABC-7 to several city reps went unanswered.

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at City Hall.

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