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Congratulations, You’re A Whore

By Crusty Douche

(Note: the views expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of the dilettante douchebag. And that’s saying something.)

 

Well congratulations commies, the film incentive has passed. You can all go back to being best boys and extras for Hollywood productions that are happy to take your cash and then shit on your face. I know, douches-in-training, you all have stars in your eyes. “Don’t let our productions go to Canada, merf!” or, “I saw Cuba Gooding Jr. boning a chick against the dumpster outside that one club, squee!” But in your race to subsidize Tinseltown, you’ve bought into the tinsel and sold out your town.

Yes, they may bring in one film or another, but as of 2011, 43 states offered incentives in the 25% range. Quickly! Everyone jump on the bandwagon to offer our city up for a cheap and easy location agreement! It’s not unlike prostitution, in that it’s a race to the, uh, bottom. Hey, we all know you can get your prostitutes anywhere, but that’s why we fawn over your special brand of celebrity-kissed herpes. These herpes will get us noticed–they’ll put us on the prostitute map!

Didja know that tax credits aren’t actually used to offset, you know, taxes? They are either paid out in cash by the state, or sold to a 3rd party for cash–sometimes sold back to the taxpayers of the state itself. Clever, right? Yes if you’re a fat cat producer. Tax incentives are good for film producers because when they package a film to sell to investors (before a camera is ever touched), they factor in tax incentives as pure cash. One film investment group stated it flat out, “A tax incentive is like getting free money.” Now can you imagine taking that up that mantra in Olympia? “Free money, c’mon! Let’s give it to ‘em! We’ll all have such better lives if we give it away to film sets instead of to single mothers, veterans, or road repairs! We don’t need a new bridge, we need lights! Action!”

In Pennsylvania, taxpayers paid over $37 million into the budget of that magnificent Hollywood queefThe Last Airbender. Those taxpayers should be in the credits of the film (unless they were slinking away in well-earned shame). Of that 37 million, not a cent went to cover taxes, but were instead sold to third parties. Investors walked away happy. Pennsylvanians walked away confused and farted upon.William Penn himself rose from the grave to bend undead air all over the city of Brotherly Love.

We can take the argument that movie sets bring in millions to a state because of spending by cast and crew locally on entertainment, hotels, and overpriced bouquets at Pike Place Market. While hard data on this is difficult to quantify, I’m willing to allow its plausibility. Because you know what? So does tourism. And who has more money to spend than scruffy film set, screw-anything-in-pants transients? TOURISTS. And you know who consistently shows up regardless of a “rebate”? TOURISTS. Why aren’t we offering them a big ol’ break if the argument for incentives comes down to local spending? But I digress.

If you’re going to be parading Seattle around by the bridle as a whore offering cash back, why not lay down some ground rules. I mean a savvy streetwalker would at least have a punchcard – buy 9 get the 10th free. How about if you want to make your multi-bajillion dollar movie in the Emerald City and get 25% of our taxes, you are required to hire 75% locally–crew and cast. How about you rent equipment from local houses and not drive your grip truck from L.A? How about any time an L.A. crew member talks shit about us, his Seattle counterpart is allowed to ram him into a pinball machine at Shorty’s? How about every taxpayer that somehow contributed to your overall budget gets one free ticket to the final film? I really don’t see why we have to pay for something twice. Especially if it’s going to suck.

And you know what, Washington? If you really want to nurture the film industry like you say, why don’t you put the taxpayer’s money where your mouth is, and invest in locally-owned production companies who are making features and TV shows for under $1 million. Instead of investing in local sustainable infrastructure, we focus on getting one-off johns through the door and call it a relationship–er, business. Subsidizing the richest productions is tantamount to a Wallstreet bailout.

Occupy Film Incentive!

Of course, I’m just a crusty ol’ douche. Don’t listen to me. But I can’t help feeling that we’ll be
mistakenly congratulating ourselves on a job well done as Hollywood tosses a few bills on the night stand and walks out without a backwards glance.

Must be the pimp in me.

 

Crusty Douche barely has a career in film and is a complete douche. He wishes to remain anonymous. I can’t imagine why.

11 Comments

  1. Weekend Lites

    Completely agree. I stayed out of the Everyone call you congressman fray for just this reason. I piss people off when I speak to the realities of the business here so have learned to keep my own counsel. But the above is the truth. We need local dollars to make an industry not tax breaks to support imported crew. Though I disagree about the imports. They are the best in the world at what they do, cause they have been doing it successfully for over 100 years. And some are ex Seattlites.

    • Hey Ben James (or whoever)

      Obviously someone didn’t do the research about what is actually in the bill or how the credits work and what it takes to earn them before spouting off a rather offensive rant.

      The local film industry wouldn’t be rallying for this bill and celebrating that it passed if it did not help Seattle locals. The bill requires a vast majority of workers on the production to be local, as well as local supplies, locations, etc in order to GET the credits.

      Economic impact studies have already shown that for every million we give away in these types of credits, we get over 7 million back. That is a no-brainer investment.

      I would explain further details of the bill to you, but since you’re clearly not interested in actual facts, and as I’m tired of seeing the word “WHORE” blasted at me repeatedly on this screen, I’ll just get going and unsubscribe from the blog.

      ~Aria
      Local Independent Film Maker & Proud Of It

  2. Franklin D Whatever

    You speak the truth! …except you aren’t close to the truth at all. I suggest you, like dozens other of us dumbshit film crew have done, read the bill. Washington’s film incentive is not a tax credit. Washingon’s film incentive gives cash back only on $$ spent in-state, not on Brad Pitt’s salary. Washington’s film incentive designates a chunk of their fund to local filmakers’ projects. Those are facts. Esoterically, your argument about racing to the bottom applies to the bad eggs in the incentive landscape (Michigan, Louisiana) for sure, but not to this program, which competes dollar to dollar to Portland and Vancouver (who have crusty crew who are turning away work every month because they’re so busy) but encourages local hiring (i.e., infrastructure and industry building) by only incentivizing local hires.

    Do some research and then come back and lay some live/hate on us. Just get the facts straight before bitching about how everyone in your profession (other than you, of course) are sell outs.

  3. Crusty Douche is definitely a sell out. Or, would be, if anyone was looking for him.

  4. It’s not the whoreishness that bothers me about this tax incentive as much as the elitism.

    Despite the tax incentive being a gift from ALL the people, not ALL the people who wish to work in film are going to get work, and not because they are incompetent or green; it’s because they are simply not one of the Cool Kids. We know who they are: they’re the same, damn, smug, self-involved, incestuous creatures who work on all the cool sets in town.

    Before one can manage to get one’s name in the mix, all the jobs are taken – BY THE SAME, DAMN PEOPLE. ALL. THE. TIME. When an outlier like me shows up, largely because no one else was available, that person is looked upon with a mixture of pity and disdain – why is THAT person here?

    The tax incentive is an exclusive benefit for an exclusive club of perhaps 30 to 50 people who SELDOM hire outside their group. And that’s only because their friends are – ha! ha! – hogging jobs on some OTHER, cool set.

    I swear, if these people could figure out a way to divide and multiply themselves, they’d do it, if only for the sake of keeping it all in the family.

    Look, I’ll try to be charitable and meet the Cool Kids half-way: if this renewed tax incentive actually does the trick, and everyone winds up with gigs fairly and squarely, then I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.

    But expect me to continue griping openly when reality sets in and the expected occurs.

    • Clique Clique

      Sounds like you had a pretty shitty time in high school, Not Cool Enough.

      I don’t buy the “I can’t work because I’m not one of the cool kids” crap. From my experience, doing good work and having a great attitude is what gets you hired in this town. Can’t get hired on a film? Look for work in commercials and corporate videos – there are way more of those around here than feature films, with or without the film incentive.

      You (and I for what it’s worth) may never work on a Lynn Shelton movie, but Lynn Shelton’s crew aren’t going to be working on the other ten incentivized movies this year, or all those Taco Time / Microsoft / Chevy commercials either. The work is here, it’s up to you to find it and be good enough to get the job.

      Do good work. Knock the chip off your shoulder. There’s light at the end of that tunnel.

      • Dear Clique Clique,

        1. MOST people had an awful time in high school – apparently, you’ve lead a charmed life. Yawn.

        2. Buy the crap or not, having a “great attitude” is not the key to getting hired. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard what a great attitude I have. It means nothing.

        2A. I didn’t make this up; conversations I’ve had with various fellow film workers have confirmed the same thing: the politics in this town are maddening. One guy called them “hipsters.” I KNOW some of these people. And they LOVE bragging about their latest, solid-gold accomplishments and all the people they know.

        2B. “Cool sets” include not just Lynn Shelton/Megan Griffiths indie extravaganzas (one of which I worked on – free of charge for a day), but THE COMMERCIALS, TOO. All of them. It’s not like one snaps one’s fingers and presto! A Taco Time/Microsoft/Chevy commercial gig!

        3. The chip wasn’t just knocked off my shoulder yesterday, pal; it was dipped in Fox News-strength pepper spray salsa and served at crafty. Twice.

        3A. The light at the end of the tunnel is the MoHo coming to run us both over.

        3B. I am doing good work – for a client who mercifully knows nothing of the Seattle film community’s wretched affairs. And I intend to keep it that way.

  5. Clique Clique

    Wow. Excuses and blaming begets excuses and blaming, apparently. I can’t imagine how someone with such a stellar attitude is having a hard time finding new work relationships. Good luck out there.

  6. Hey Ben – While I agree with a lot of what you’re saying about tax incentives for film in general I do think Washington’s is better than most and you should have looked into the specifics a little more about what makes this incentive different. (The local hires provision and even If only to maybe have a better perch to tear it down from) More specific to our state douchey-ness please!

    • Hey Ryan, thanks for the comment!

      Actually, I didn’t write the article. I merely gave the individual a forum to express their controversial opinion. Actually I was planning on publishing a rebuttal of sorts. The details of the editorial leave a lot to be desired in the accuracy department.

      What I think the article did well was hit upon a common feeling in Seattle indie film culture: that many film makers, crew, and talent feel left out of anything good, and that a chosen few always seem to get to do the cool stuff and get the benefit of the bigger productions that come to town. We call these people whiney-pants.

      Personally, I supported the bill because I feel a rising tide floats all boats. Any increase in film work in Seattle is a good thing for everyone, even if personally we don’t get to benefit directly. Even if only Lynn Shelton benefits. (Sorry, had to toss her in. Her name always comes up in this kind of discussion.)

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