Very rarely will I take the opportunity to stand on a soap box and espouse political views, but as a Colorado movie lover, I feel it’s absolutely necessary to rally behind House Bill 1207. Sponsored by Aurora state Sen. Nancy Spence, the bill calls for a 10-cent hike in movie tickets in the state to help benefit local film production.  

And I know what you’re gonna say – movie tickets are too expensive already!  

In many ways, you’re right. However, this increase is not for the benefit of theater chains, distributors, production houses, 3D and digital technologies, or greedy Hollywood studios. The importance of this bill is that the revenue generated would go directly to the Colorado Office of Film, Television, and Media for the sole purpose of attracting more film, television, and commercial production to the state. That, in turn, equates to a healthier local economy, tons of jobs, and billions of dollars spent right here.  

As many of you may recall, Colorado was once a Hollywood mecca. In the 50’s and 60’s, the state was home to terrific Westerns like The Maverick Queen, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and the original, True Grit. And in the 80’s and 90’s, it hosted prolific television productions from Viacom like Perry Mason, Father Dowling Mysteries, and Diagnosis Murder. More importantly, it kept thousands of Coloradans employed, gave opportunities to students attending local film schools, and boosted the economy as film crews traveled throughout, spending money on hotels, eateries, and retail establishments.  

Today, however, all of that has changed. And the reason is simple – economics.  

Out of the nearly 40 states that offer film incentives, Colorado is virtually dead last, offering a measly 10 percent cash rebate for Colorado companies spending $100,000 or more on film production and out-of-state companies spending $250,000 or more.  

Robert Redford & Paul Newman in "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid"

To put that in perspective, states like Michigan, Louisiana, and Oklahoma offer upwards of 40+ percent in rebates to filmmakers, while New Mexico, Colorado’s chief competitor, offers 25%. So, as you can imagine, for a Hollywood producer or an independent filmmaker evaluating options, the choice is simple: A movie will only be made on location where the costs are low and where they can get the most bang for their buck in rebates.  

Rep. Tom Massey (Poncha Springs) knows the story all too well. Over the past seven years, he’s tried to increase filmmaking incentives in Colorado to no avail. Yet, continues to lobby hard. Says Massey, “We’re grossly behind. This [legislation] puts us in the middle of the pack. (It) lets us play in the game to bring some production to Colorado and put our folks back to work.”  

Later this month, House Bill 1207 will receive its first public hearing. And hopefully, it will earn a spot on the ballot for voters this November. Even though it adds a dime to each movie you see at the box office, the positive impact to Colorado would be enormous, helping to bring jobs, tourism, and big business back to the state. Not to mention, a little of that Hollywood sparkle.  

-Mark Sells, “The Reel Deal”

THIS WEEK’S PICKS:  

Another Year – Writer/director Mike Leigh has an innate sensibility when it comes to the human condition. Most specifically, within each of his films (Happy-Go-Lucky, Vera Drake, Secrets & Lies), his characters are never idealized or stereotypes. Rather, they are empathetic and real. Such is the case with Another Year, his latest story about a happily married couple with a happy family who play host to a variety of friends and colleagues whose lives are not so happy. Through it all, Tom and Gerri provide the calm in the storm for close friends, like Mary, a middle aged divorcee who drinks too much and struggles to find a mate. They listen, encourage, and try to get those in need back on track. Starring Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, and one incredible performance from Lesley Manville (overlooked by Oscar), this film represents another keen observation of humanity unclothed.        

Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen, "Another Year"

The Illusionist – Written by legendary French filmmaker, Jacques Tati (Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, Jour de Fete, Parade) and directed/illustrated by Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Beleville), this animated feature is a beautifully drawn, tender, and whimsical tale of two diverse characters brought together by magic. An aging magician named Tatischeff, who travels from town to town in search of an audience, and a young woman named Alice, who finds his act charming. Together, the two form a unique friendship that is sentimental and sweet. He has perfected the art of illusion (except for the old rabbit out of the hat trick) and become somewhat cynical and she refuses to give up on her childhood imagination. Simple, yet magical, it’s easy to see why this film joins Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon in the Oscar category for Best Animated Feature.      

FILM EVENT ON THE RADAR:
 

The Room February 12th at midnight at the Esquire Theater. Perhaps this generation’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Room is quickly gaining cult status as a film so bad, it’s good. Written, directed, and starring Tommy Wiseau, the film tells the tragic tale of a love triangle gone awry – passion, lies, and unexpected consequences. Rife with plot holes, continuity errors, amateurish cinematography, and a partially dubbed soundtrack, the film is a cinematic train wreck. And unintentionally hilarious. At each screening, audience members vocalize their own commentary and regurgitate key lines from the film. An unforgettable theatrical experience, The Room is pure B movie fun. Just remember to bring a handful of plastic spoons to throw at the screen – trust me, you’ll want to.   

Click here to watch the official trailer for The Room.

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