Tonight I attended the Milken Institute Panel on increasing film subsidies in California. This was an awesome discussion and you have to watch it. The panel had pro and anti subsidy people along with film executives, union leaders, and politicians. The host asked some great questions that made some of the panel members squirm:
Some of the highlights (or lowlights):
None of the film subsidy supporters wanted to admit how much the program will cost.
Kathy Garmezy of the DGA talks about the terrible plight members of her union suffer as they are displaced by subsidies and argues we need more subsidies here. The host then follows up and asks why then does her group lobby for subsidies elsewhere if she knows it’s hurting her members. She went into squirm mode very quickly.
Joseph Henchman of the Tax Foundation was probably the person I agree with the most. He simple poked holes into many of the pro-subsidy panelists arguments. In fact he points out that the problem can easily be solved by implementing some kind of duty state-wide through the legislature.
Fox Executive Fred Baron wrongly says that California is the best at making movies and used that fact that VFX is done here as an example. Seriously? He then later on says “Studios care about people” and the audience just moans.
The discussion actually had a significant discussion on VFX and this is where I unfortunately had to interrupt the panel. There were a lot of things said that were incorrect by some of the panelists which I can’t go over. You just have to watch.
They surprisingly took questions by me and some of my readers who were allowed to text and email questions. I submitted a question of how it should be expected for CA to beat BC’s 60% subsidy. The panelists couldn’t believe it was that high and I had to interrupt and tell them it was verified twice by the BC government and a number of producers.
Another reader was able to get a question through on support for our legal effort to place duties on subsidized VFX. Fox exec Fred Baron scoffed at the idea by saying “Does that mean we’ll play duties on imported shoes?!”. I immediately yell out, “We already do!”
For those that think I’m Captain America, you’ll be delighted to know that I again was forced to interrupt the panel when they tried to say USA VFX is the best. You can probably hear me interrupt them saying WETA a bunch of times.
It was a fun informative panel and I offered my apologies to the moderator afterwards. I was pleasantly surprised to meet people there who knew who I was and admit they read my blog.