Hawaii Film Blog

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"Hawaii Five-O" in Fiji?!

It could happen--Fiji has a 15% tax rebate and a lower cost of living--and may have to happen to give Hawaii's film-indifferent legislators a wake-up call. Examples of legislative action spurred by such humiliation abound. When "Chicago" filmed in Toronto, Illinois legislators passed a film incentive bill to prevent such an embarassment from happening again. When "New York Minute" and "Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story" cheaped out and headed for Canada, New York legislators got in gear and passed film incentives.

If you were producing upcoming Warner Bros. feature "Hawaii Five-O," wouldn't you just hire a good production designer and greensman, build some police station sets in Louisiana, and send your second unit to Hawaii for a week to grab some exterior shots? Or maybe build Hawaii from scratch in Fiji? Well, that's just the kind of thing producers are doing right now, as illuminated in today's L.A. Times article "Hollywood's New Backlot? The U.S." by John Horn. (Thanks for forwarding, Konrad.) Here are some excerpts from the article:

  • [M]oviemaking has turned into part of the national economy. The Hollywoodization of America, according to the U.S. Census, has turned into an industry that generates $9.3 billion in American salaries each year.
  • "I'm sitting here at my office at Warner Bros.," said Joel Silver, who produced the "Matrix" movies. "And I'm looking at big buildings and soundstages and all the things you need to make a movie, but what do I have to do? Get on a plane and fly thousands of miles so I can look at big buildings and soundstages and all the things you need to make a movie. And why? Because of costs. It all comes down to costs."
  • The drive to lure Hollywood across state lines is tearing down ideological boundaries: Louisiana's popular incentives were drafted by a conservative Republican state legislator, and were being hawked to the industry by a liberal lieutenant governor. Even within California, a push for similar incentives is being supported by both the studios and the Hollywood labor unions, who on almost every other issue sit on opposite sides of the table.
  • Steve Scalise is a tax-cutting conservative in the Louisiana House of Representatives. He does not consider show business a leftist blight. Instead, the Republican legislator sees Hollywood as part of his state's economic fabric and a spigot for job growth. "I don't know much about the film industry outside of going to the movies," Scalise said. But what he does understand is that tax policy can drive economic development...
  • "We shed about 17% on our budget" by coming to Louisiana, said the producer [of the "Big Momma's House" sequel], David T. Friendly. "And that was the difference between development hell and a green light. That's amazing."
  • Even factoring in travel and hotel costs, it's often cheaper to leave [California]. A June analysis conducted by the Independent Film & Television Alliance showed that a hypothetical movie that would cost $19.24 million to produce in Los Angeles would cost $17.8 million in New Mexico and $18 million in Louisiana.

>> Hollywood's New Backlot? The U.S. [L.A. Times, 8/17/05]

>> From Your Mouth to the Legislature's Ears
>> Our Loss is Their Gain
>> Incentive Mania
>> Hey, Whatever's Cheapest
>> Domestic Competition for Productions Growing Fiercer
>> Meanwhile in Gotham...
>> Why Film Tax Incentives?

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