Hollywood Tax Breaks

How desperate are cities and states to spruce their economy? The main solution to the “moar jobz” problem seems to be create gambling zones. Like sin or vice taxation, the state gooses tax receipts off of the addictions and degeneracy of some of its citizens. Plus, there are jobs, jobs, jobs, which to an increasingly lumpenprole America, pay just enough to be worth it. Along the lines of poor taxation and regulation to spruce employment is the concept of tax breaks for filming Hollywood productions. These are subsidies for an already wealthy industry and high net work individuals because of the post-FDR national obsession with full employment being the yardstick for effective governance.

Film location tax credits offer a state tax credit for production completed in that state. This can be as high as 30% in some states with items like actors’ salaries even included. It is a subsidy for film production reducing costs for Hollywood, which continues to see revenues rise. Say Lionsgate is in negotiations with a network like AMC or Pivot to produce a series. Lionsgate might try to hardball the percent of what they will pay for production down from 70% to 50%. Either way, the tax credit is applied to production, slashing their costs even further. Some states allow these tax credits to be sold, which gives studios the option of waiting for their credit to be paid out or selling the credit to another party. Middlemen arrange a sale of say a $1 million credit for $900,000, collect a 1% commission, send a finder’s fee to their network of scouts, and sit back as a high net worth individual or company in say Pennsylvania or Georgia spends 900K to save $1 mil off their tax bill. The Hollywood production company gets a chunk of money up front, the credit purchaser gets an immediate return on their investment by shaving their tax bill, and a network of middlemen collect a vig.

Why? Handout to the donor classes. Supposedly, the local economies see a construction or injection fo cash due to exposure, but who watches films shot in georgia and screams, “I have GOT to go to Georgia!” Maybe films shot in Hawaii. No helpful effect on residents or locals. Nothing is permanent as any work is for the limited production, but the temporary boost helps local construction firms maintain their planning. While previously protected by the location dependence of Hollywood production, the middle class of production workers in southern California now feels the squeeze and their work drains away. They now know how CNC machinists feel in Ohio. The article does cite how the consulting and financial firms involved in state tax credit deals have grown in size, so the financialization of every industry leaves no sector untouched. The money flows in and out from one wealthy pocket to the next, and state governments see lower tax receipts.

There could be something with the artform going on with this change. While certain things can be CGI, shooting on location has grown in use. This could be the next step in the artistic effect of forever progressing from stage to reality. The scene set up and acting of Edward G. Robinson and his early movies was obviously from the stage. Gone With the Wind filmed Atlanta as a soundtsage, Holiday Inn and White Christmas used sets including the same big inn, and The Shining was a collection of beautiful sets. Compare any premier cop drama on television through the years. Viewers progressively want the illusion to be better and more real. If they remake White Christmas, the filming will probably be at a real inn in Oregon not a soundstage in California, but would it make it any better?

This could explain reality programming’s growth, appeal and success. Reality TV (like gonzo-POV porn) was where we’d end up because of our ever demanding need for it to feel real. Shed the facade that it is phony, and we’re reacting to something scripted to get us to react. We’re sad that Michael Corleone has his sweet, simple brother killed, but after the movie is done, we realize we were manipulated to feel upset by a forgery. Reality programming brings back the unknown and our reactions are directly off of real people as if it is a shared experience. The voyeurism has been at play for decades from Hitchcock’s playful opening of the 39 Steps with the lit letters starting the show to scripted reality, which blurs the lines further. Shooting in different locations feeds that craving for reality.

This also gives the woke system greater leverage across America. Georgia has been threatened by Hollywood if it went too rightward. They won’t film there anymore if Georgia is not on the poz train. Georgia takes the dirty money and pretends it isn’t a whore. New Mexico is facing budget problems due to its lucrative tax credit program. New Mexico had a tense state fiscal debate before covid hit. All for Hollywood’s temporary money.

This is still a fake policy that serves the connected and wealthy. Nothing is fixed. Filming in rural Louisiana does not improve the long term comfort of citizens. If states or municipalities want to boost citizens’ self-esteem and fix up the area, just create makework beautify and clean up projects. Send 10,000 unemployed college graduates in Michigan to Detroit to clean up using salad forks and sandwich bags so it takes longer. Cross reference database of peole on social welfare with non-profit or school security needs elsewhere. What is the point? These idiotic policies are done in the name of full employment and maximizing GDP. Politicians need that to rest on as their measuring stick for re-election. It is the same game as in 1932. It is a failed goal. We need to progress from full economy to something greater. In atomized world and highly segmented society, how do we settle on greater? The goal of multiculturalism and greater diversity might be to weaken that so no one pays attention to the connected and wealthy continuing to loot the public treasury.

One Comment Add yours

  1. stallard0 says:

    “Authenticity” is a real fetish for the chattering classes. They wouldn’t be seen dead eating a diabetes-inducing greasy piece of shit taco from Taco Bell, but if some vato named Angel who snuck over the border yesterday is serving the same slop out of a food truck, it’s haute cuisine. The interest in authenticity as it applies to media is just as shallow and vapid. “Filmed on location” might have been a selling point half a century ago when it meant you might get some nice establishing shots, but it’s completely devalued by every Hollywood production being so filmed. Most of the time it really is just an excuse for cast and crew to have a vacation someplace nice. The only time a film seriously impacts tourism is when you have something on the level of the Lord of the Rings (or Harry Potter) where people are so entranced in the setting they’d pay to visit some Disneyland equivalent. Nobody is going to Ohio because the latest blockbuster has a chase sequence through a corn field.

    Reality television is a whole other kettle of fish, and most people I hope are aware of how utterly sinister it is. It’s pretty much the opposite of acting where instead of fiction attempting to depict reality, you manipulate reality to depict a fiction crafted by some studio. It’s incredibly manipulative and exploitative of everyone involved, particularly when you have Dr Phil-like scenarios where the poor sap thinks they’re going to get a fair hearing instead of being edited into being the villain of the petty drama woven by some slimeballs behind the camera. So pretty much exactly like media interviews.

    For as shitty as kickbacks between producers and politicians out of the coffers of the state treasury are, I’d take Californians filming shit two times a year over a giant casino or two. Gambling is not only immediately extremely harmful for the gamblers, financial distress one of the worst pressures on the modern family, but it is demonstrably terrible for the economy, being a giant inefficiency as some billionaire wearing a little hat or feather steals the paychecks of hundreds of thousands of plebs that otherwise would have been spent. But in the absence of any moral compass, we’ll continue to see gambling, pornography, drugs, and all sorts of evils proliferate because people genuinely cannot morally reason beyond “killing is bad because I wouldn’t want to be killed”.

    Liked by 1 person

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