Texas Looks to Expand Hollywood Presence by Increasing Entertainment Grants Budget

Photo from Pete Alexopoulos on Unsplash

Texas Looks to Expand Hollywood Presence by Increasing Entertainment Grants Budget

By Movieguide® Contributor

Texas increased its entertainment grants to $200 million to entice more productions, increase its infrastructure and expand its presence in the lucrative industry.

“We all want this business to be here,” said Paul Jensen, the executive director of the Texas Media Production Alliance, adding, “We have a really strong crew base that wants to work hard and get the job done. And, while we’re enjoying the success of an enhanced incentive program that’s fully funded, we’re starting to see some real changes in the infrastructure to accommodate big productions.”

The state previously introduced a grant program that totaled $45 million but ran out of money before its two-year time period expired. The new program’s $200 million is slated to cover productions that began in September 2023 through August 2025.

“That number makes Texas competitive with neighbors such as New Mexico and Louisiana, each of which have invested heavily in film production,” Texas Monthly reported.

Eligible productions can receive returns of up to 22.5%, with an additional 2.5% available for productions that occur within underserved areas of the state.

Texas is already home to a handful of major shows and movies such as YELLOWSTONE, MAYOR OF KINGSTOWN, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD and more. With an expectation that more productions will start moving in, the grant provides funds to expand the state’s entertainment infrastructure. The state already hosts many vendors who sell the equipment necessary to fuel this growth.

“We don’t have to ship in any kind of equipment,” said Brian Gannon, director of the Austin Film Commission. “We’ve got grip, electric, camera, even down to Film Fleet, who supplies all the kinds of trucks and trailers you would need. They’re one of the largest suppliers in the Southwest and based right here in Austin.”

To ensure the state will have a sufficient number of professionals, some local colleges are now offering credentialing programs for entertainment-related work. Tarrant Community College, for example, now offers a gaffer/grip certificate, a hair and makeup certificate and a light commercial construction certificate to help local Texans get involved with the growing industry.

“We’ll be able to see consistent work coming to Texas and even more, because the word’s already getting out in the industry that it’s a new day in Texas,” said Fort Worth producer Red Sanders.

While Texas invests more in the entertainment industry through these impressive tax incentives, many states are wondering if these programs actually provide the returns they hope. Rather than boosting the economy, some states are finding that these programs hurt taxpayers more than they help.

Movieguide® previously reported:

While Hollywood has received a reported $25 billion in tax incentives, states such as Michigan and Georgia are debating whether those programs are hurting or helping taxpayers. 

“Frequently championed by Democrats, state tax credits for movie and TV productions are intended to juice local economies by creating jobs and boosting revenue for small businesses that provide services like catering and transportation. That, in turn, is supposed to generate more tax dollars,” Breitbart explained

States like New York report that for every dollar given in tax credits, they have seen returns as low as 15 to 31 cents.  

In hopes of boosting Michigan’s economy, Allen Park, a suburb of Detroit, sold $31 million in bonds to turn a former auto parts manufacturer into a movie studio, but the project failed in 2010. This left the already financially struggling city in debt, and it had to cut funding for police and firefighters.  

“The city got taken advantage of,” Sgt. Grant Peace told the New York Times. “And it hurt our pocketbooks.” 

Michigan eventually shut down the tax incentive program after auditors determined that it cost more than it was taking in. But recently, the government has been pushing to revive it. 

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