City trying to attract more films to San Antonio

Phil Anaya, KHOU

SAN ANTONIO – For the first time ever, the city of San Antonio has come together with leaders of the local film industry to come up with a plan to bring more films to the Alamo City. However, it won’t be an easy task, especially since state lawmakers have dramatically slashed film incentives.

“It’s been over 10 years since a feature film over $3 million in budget was shot in the Alamo City, and so we’re trying to change that,” Kerry Valderrama said.

Valderrama is one of dozens in the local film industry brainstorming with the city on how to attract more films to San Antonio; a plan that covers marketing, incentives, and workforce.

“We’ll be taking that to city council and looking at what are the next steps that the city’s going to do and the film industry. This is a partnership,” said Debbie Racca-Sittre of the San Antonio Film Commission.

Much of attracting films comes down to bottom line. It does not help that the Texas legislature slashed the film incentive budget from $95 million in 2014-2015 to just $32 million for 2016-2017.

“And so TV shows are now leaving the state of Texas and so San Antonio, of course, is hurting even more than that,” Valderamma said.

The city does offer a 2.5 percent incentive, but filmmakers applying for the city benefits have to meet state qualifications. Local film experts want the city to makes its incentives independent from the state and increase that incentive to compete with states like New Mexico and Louisiana.

“So right now at 2.5 percent, we’re asking to increase it to 7.5 percent, up to 30 percent,” Valderamma noted.

Local filmmaker Brandon Olmos told KENS 5 that it’s the city’s mindset that needs to change.

“This is not supplementing the arts, this is about business. This is about money. This is about us making a living,” Olmos said.

“Right now, we have amazing talent but they all have to work elsewhere,” Valderrama said. “It’s time to bring everyone home.”

On Wednesday, the San Antonio Film Commission and members of the local film community wrapped up a second day of strategic planning. A fine-tuned plan will be given to city council later in the year.

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