El Paso filmmakers explain why Texas is not Hollywood

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El Paso — Lights, cameras, but not much action in this nascent filmmaking community far from Los Angeles, the epicenter of global entertainment.

There is no filmmaking infrastructure in this high desert community to entice venture capitalists and support movie producers, directors, actors and ancillary businesses that contribute mightily to the economic engines driving film industry friendly states like New York, Georgia, Louisiana and neighboring New Mexico, local officials and filmmakers said.

There are several reasons why Texas is not Hollywood, local industry insiders said. In the last decade, the state has slashed the financial incentives it offers to filmmakers who want to make movies here.

Currently, Texas incentives range from 5 percent to 20 percent based on the amount of money a film company is projected to spend before it wraps production in the state. But savvy filmmakers have discovered that a short drive across the state line into New Mexico could yield up to 30% in incentives.

El Paso filmmakers said they are offended by film and television productions that perpetuate racist stereotypes about the city’s Mexican-American residents. They said they are further angered that the productions that cast them in a negative light aren’t even made here leaving tax-paying residents without even an economic windfall, adding further insult to injury.

While several filmmakers have pulled up stakes, like San Antonio native son Robert Rodriguez who left Texas after a highly publicized court battle with state officials over incentives, others have eschewed Hollywood’s klieg lights and have decided to stay close to home.

This three-part multimedia story that tells the story of Why Texas is Not Hollywood was produced as part of the 2016 Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy by Karima Haynes, Michael DiBari and Alice Stephens.

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