TLP: Parental Guidance Suggested
State governments aren't really in a position to turn away money these days, broke as they are. And yet, some states are backing off from providing the incentives that lure Hollywood and its dollars when officials don't like the subject or "nature" of the movie being made.
When Andrew van den Houten got a letter two weeks ago rejecting his request for Michigan public money to help finance his latest horror movie, “The Woman,” it came with an admonition about the state’s good name.Well, what the fuck, Michigan? You already helped pay for baby-cannibalism. Guess someone has a better idea to create the kind of jobs that come with movie-making and to supplant the revenue the state will lose from the production.
“This film is unlikely to promote tourism in Michigan or to present or reflect Michigan in a positive light,” wrote Janet Lockwood, Michigan’s film commissioner. Ms. Lockwood particularly objected to “this extreme horror film’s subject matter, namely realistic cannibalism; the gruesome and graphically violent depictions described in the screenplay; and the explicit nature of the script.”
The easy money is not quite so easy any more.
Among the states that began underwriting film and television production with heavy subsidies over the past half-decade — 44 states had some sort of incentives by last year, 28 of them involving tax credits — at least a handful are giving new scrutiny to a question that was politely overlooked in the early excitement: What kind of films are taxpayers paying for?
Less than two years ago, Mr. van den Houten became one of the first to take advantage of Michigan’s generous subsidy, which pays for up to 42 percent of a movie’s cost, when he made “Offspring,” a cannibalism-themed horror picture that was later distributed by the Ghost House Underground direct-to-video line and has been showing on NBC Universal’s Chiller TV network.
“The Woman,” a sequel to “Offspring,” is a little less horrific, Mr. van den Houten said in an interview. “We had babies in the first movie,” he offered.
One of The Lazy Paperboy's favorite assignments as a reporter was writing about the boom in the movie business in a very un-Hollywood location. A big selling point for this market was that it was an inexpensive place to shoot and could stand in for all kinds of locations. Rough and urban? Check. Nondescript suburbs? Why, yes. Rural? Conveniently nearby. Incentives helped provide the capital to build a soundstage that allowed interiors to be shot there instead of Hollywood or New York.
Eventually, the movie business moved on. Production companies headed to states with better incentives and more enthusiastic public officials or to Canada, where dollars bought more. Places like Michigan may find themselves wishing someday soon that they could get another audition. And then not be able to win the part, even with a casting couch blowjob.