Film in Washington Is NOT a Lost Cause

Why You Should Support SB 6027

Comments

1
I absolutely love this article! Please read and share! #keepfilminwa
2
Super write-up, Megan and Lynn. Captures the main points in understandable language for anyone interested in boosting our State economy.
3
What you describe is BRIBERY and it should be illegal. Why don't you move to DC where they have practically legalized the art of it.
4
Screw you, welfare queen. Pay your taxes like the rest of us.

Oh, and lets pretend we believe your statement: "Since 2007, the fund has generated $96.3 million in economic activity"

$3.5MM in taxes * 8 years = $28MM; sales tax + B&O is ~12%, right? so the state got back $11.6MM on expenditures of $28MM.

Only a 50% loss in tax revenue. Woohoo!
5
@4 you are fucking moron and completely ignore the actually economic activity that the taxes spent generates in direct reference to tax dollars spent. The state doesn't spend taxes to make a net back on the taxes spent but to generate economic growth which is far more valuable. The state spent the money to grow the economy you fuck wit. Dollars that would have been spent else wheres were spent in this state. This is how taxes should be spent.
6
Star-struck bullshit. You could make the same argument to subsidize anything. Producers just pit one venue against another, subsidy-shopping. Ooooh, you get a glimpse of a B-list star in the street, big fucking deal. This "economic multiplier" pack of lies has been used for myriad things. Buy a few more buses with the money, THAT has clear economic and environmental value.
7
Money is still fungible. Pretending the state subsidized one part of the production budget -- salt of the earth grips -- and not another part -- highly paid actors -- is a classic example of how tax boondoggles work. You try to fool the taxpayer with this kind of shell game. When we give producers our tax dollars to pay crew who reside in Washington, that frees up other money in their budget to pay Kiera Knightly, or to pocket as profits. Money is fungible.

By the same token, pretending this money only comes from the B&O taxes of the hospitality industry ignores that when you take that money and give it to film producers, you can't spend it on education and health care and housing. Fungible. There is no special trick you can pull to pretend your spending is painless. Somebody else gets less when you hand over state money to Hollywood.

And remember that Washington has the most regressive taxes in the nation. The poorest people in this state pay 17% of their income in taxes; the most taxed poor in any state. Washington's 1% get by with a consummately unjust sweetheart deal.

When you go pulling money out of Washington's state budget to enrich big entertainment corporations that can afford to film anywhere they choose, you're taking money from taxpayers who can least afford it, and who are in the greatest need to have state money spent on services for them.

This corporate welfare doesn't ensure healthy industry based in Washington for generations to come. When other cities offer larger bribes, productions can skip town overnight. It's not like they're investing in huge heavy industrial plants. They have a tiny infrastructure and can fly outta town on a whim. Look at how fast they flew out of Vancouver, BC, when they saw a slightly better bribe in the next city over. Notice this deal doesn't come with any promise to stick around once the production folds up their tents and leaves.

It's kind of funny how we're supposed to believe one location can't play another on film. If Idris Elba can be James Bond (and he most certainly can), any city can play any other city. Acting! Special effects! It's all a performance anyway. Film makers whose dream is only the most gritty realism, the most method of acting, should make the choice to work with producers who share that artistic vision. Otherwise, you get whatever looks close enough and sells.
8
Not that actor's have much say on a film's location, but it can't be worth nothing to the highly paid ones that Washington won't be collecting on the income they earned while shooting there.
9
@8 - Washington State doesn't have an income tax.
10
Hell yeah! New jobs! Ancillary economic and cultural activity! How could anyone pass up that sweet deal?

Before you pat yourself on the back, Lynn, I am quoting from Chris Hansen's shell game to get a bunch of taxpayer money for a new basketball arena. Because he is using the same bullshit tactics to try and rip off the state that you and your partners in crime are.

The only good thing I can say about Hansen is that at least he's not you. If we really want to go down that 'using tax dollars to encourage economic activity' road, even the stadium deal is better than the film incentive program. At least with the stadium deal there is some guarantee of a continuation of the benefits. Not so much with film.

Look at yourself. After Washington invested in Laggies, here you are already back again with threats. You'd just love to work here, because the city means so much to you, but only if the state can pony up. And when your half-baked sit-com gets shuffled to Friday night after four weeks, and canceled after six? We'll have a bunch of grips standing around holding their dicks while they reminisce with actors that got to do bit parts on a forgotten show.

And that last bit is important. You trot out the talking points about hiring local just to get the hopes up of those struggling in the film world. Just enough for them to buy into your scam. In reality though, we all know the score. You are never going to give the really good jobs to any of the locals. Your show will be staffed with writers from Hollywood, directed by directors from Hollywood, and have all the principal roles cast in Hollywood. I only have to look to Z Nation to see how that game plays out.
11
@9 - Exactly my point. From an actor's standpoint, earning money in WA is advantageous (I believe as of 2012 CA will still collect on those [CA residents'] earnings, but at a lower rate). Other states that incentivize film production like NM and GA do collect. Their tax rates may be lower than if that income had been earned in CA, but it's still something for the state.

Canada, however, does not collect income taxes from non-residents working on temporary productions (i.e. films) there.
12
@10: Not to get too far off topic, but existing NBA owners basically require public money to be spent on stadiums. That's why Hansen set up the deal the way he did. Current NBA owners don't want a precedent of privately financed stadiums; it would result in current NBA owners needing to privately finance their own new stadiums. They would rather not. With regard to Hansen, building a stadium using a large amount of public money the only option if the NBA is to return to Seattle, which is Hansen's goal. So he's not really playing a shell game.
13
@11
No, there are not lower tax rates for working in another state. You would have to file for a credit for the state taxes you paid. And if no taxes were withheld from the state where you worked, you'd be responsible for the full amount.
14
So let me get this straight, we have film productions that could come here, spend tens of millions of dollars on crew wages (at the higher Union Scale), equipment rentals, prop and costume purchases/rentals, car and truck rentals, hotels, food, construction materials, office space rentals, and various locations fees. And then only AFTER all film is complete, filming that MUST have been crewed from Washington State residents, does the production receive a tax credit. And there is a cap on the total credit available. And if no production come one year, nothing spent, no taxes to receive credit. But even with the positives we have the pearl clutchers that just hate, hate I tell you those dirty stink'n Hollywood types.
15
I don't do my own research. I only pay attention to what the media tells me. Well-reasoned arguments backed up with facts bore me. Shrill, emotionally-laden shouting, especially combined with righteous indignation, is what motivates me. Those people tell me anything the government does is bad, bad, bad. Except wars! Invade those awful a-rabs except Saudi Arabia, UAE, Dubai, and anyone else who are friends with the Bushes. Because they are patriots and the bestest presidents ever!

With this solid foundation for brain use, I demand that this bill be abolished and those behind it be exposed for the abortion-loving gay commies that they are.
16
I am so tired of hand-outs from the public for private businesses, especially the film business, where there are people making serious dollars and have the gall to extort the public. Bad enough that Boeing gets tax breaks. But at least we know they are really here and really making things with real full time employees and capital investments. Fuck the NBA and pro-sports getting a dollar of public money. Let's remember that the film business has a whole lot of people making very little and a small number making millions per film. When the latter are willing to work at scale let's talk about it. Or how about this: We have a jury that looks at the value of a given production on multiple levels and the state INVESTS money for a share of the potential proceeds of the film, with careful auditing and financial standards in place that preclude so called Hollywood accounting that I hear exists, that often leaves outside investors screwed. The problem with these subsidies is that they are like heroin - easy to get hooked on them. Would film making end as we know it if every jurisdiction stopped this nonsense? I doubt it, but salaries might change, just as they would if the NBA had to live without such subsidies.
17
@13 - Shit, you're absolutely right. States don't care where you earned your money. Jesus, I should know that. What I was conflating is California's new rules for collecting the difference.

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/20…
18
@17 I've lived in both CA and NY while working as a freelancer in many other states at the time, I got to experience the pain in the ass of multiple state tax returns first hand. One year I worked in 13 different States! That was when I finally broke down and hired an accountant to do my taxes. Expensive but worth my sanity.
19
@16 - On a big production, I wouldn't say "a whole lot of people making very little" at all. Stars sure make star money, but for the crew those are good jobs with really solid day rates. Even PAs do OK considering it's entry-level work.
20
This is just another crap-ass subsidy that is part of the "competition" among states and countries to hand tax dollars to corporate interests. The difference here is that readers have a stronger affinity for handouts that benefit their artsy friends than their programmer friends. And no one here has machinist friends, so fuck Boeing.
21
Its kind of shitty that you take public money for years but then the one year the money goes to someone else you threaten to move your productions out side of WA. This sounds like the same tatics as boeing, sports owners, tech companies, etc...
22
@20 & 21
Nice straw men you've built there. Must've taken you tens of seconds...
23
Way to roll out the red carpet of welcome and thoughtful consideration for two of our areas brightest creative talents, SLOG. I'm sure Lynnn and Megan look forward to encouraging dialogue with you all again real soon.

BRAVO!
24
@22 howa that a strawman? They took public money for years and only started complaining when the money went to someone else.

Look, if the returns on the investment really is that good, we should boost the fund, its the smart thing to do. But lets not pretend that one group of people who take tax payer money for years and threatens to moce their business when that money dries up, is any different from other groups who do the same.
25
NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.
Unless you make us SO MUCH MONEY that the money flows right back into the state's general fund and can be put towards education and social services, then FORGET ABOUT IT.
26
Because I don't like tax incentives for Boeing or pro sports teams/facilities or other business ventures, I don't see any reason to support this either. Business ventures should pay their own way. If they can't, perhaps they shouldn't be in business.

It's not like we're going to run out of stuff to watch on TV or at the movies.