Just like that. On March 21, state Senator Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, requested that House Bill 1207, proposing a ten cent fee to all movie tickets sold in Colorado, be postponed indefinitely. The bill, which would have raised as much as $4 million each year to help bring filmmakers to Colorado to shoot movies, television shows, commercials, video games, etc. could not gain enough support. And further demonstrated the vast disconnect between legislators and the benefits of a well established filmmaking community.

Today, officials estimate that the movie industry adds more than $20 billion to the Colorado economy and accounts for more than 50,000 jobs. That’s with virtually no incentives. Yet, year after year, Colorado legislators continue to debate the economical and social benefits of the movie industry, while the evidence lies in plain sight. For instance, in 2009, Paramount Pictures came to Colorado despite the lack of incentives and still spent $3.25 million in two weeks while filming part of Eddie Murphy’s Imagine That. Not to mention the hundreds of local crew hired on set.

Still, legislators are extremely difficult to persuade. And for that, you have to give praise to Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, who continues to fight for Colorado moviemaking in spite of the inexplicable barriers. In advance of HB 1207’s rejection, he quickly made amendments via a House committee to remove the required fee and allow movie theaters the “option” of collecting donations for filmmakers (which passed the House, 40-25). A last ditch effort to get something in place.

Yet, Senator Spence remained steadfast, arguing that the state could not raise enough money through donations either. “It would have raised such a nominal amount that it wouldn’t have been worth it,” Spence argued. “When we’re competing for movie patrons’ dollars with a box of popcorn or a couple of expensive sodas, I don’t think it would have fared well.”

Paul Giamatti & Alex Shaffer - Win Win

Her solution? Kill the measure and bring it back only if a major city in Colorado could implement a similar policy and demonstrate the financial benefits of having filmmakers come to the state and spend $75,000 to $125,000 per day – a Catch-22 by any definition. After all, no city or township has the means to offer the type of incentives comparable to the states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, or Louisiana. Nor would they be able to raise enough through donations citywide to attract any filmmaker.

Thus, the curtain falls once more – a sad state of affairs for Colorado and its filmmaking community, helpless bystanders in a political arena that remains content on placing countless opportunities, jobs, and millions of dollars each year into the coffers of its neighbors.

-Mark Sells, “The Reel Deal”

This Week’s Picks:

  • Win Win – Writer/director Tom McCarthy loves to expose curmudgeons to total strangers and see how their lives change unexpectedly. There was the train loving Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage), whose sheltered life is interrupted by a lonely woman and a hot dog vendor in The Station Agent. Then, in The Visitor, Richard Jenkins plays Walter Vale, a single professor who starts to live again after welcoming a young immigrant couple into his home. And here, Paul Giamatti as a struggling attorney who moonlights as a wrestling coach. To support his family, he engages in some unethical business dealings and winds up taking in a runaway boy, who just so happens to be a star wrestler. Although the story and situations are quite predictable (think big, pivotal wrestling match for all the marbles), the journey itself is a pleasant, comical, and truthful one that simply, can’t lose.

  • In a Better World – Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, World shows the complexity of friendships between two families in an idyllic town in Denmark after they are torn apart by a single act of revenge. Directed by noted Dogme filmmaker, Susanne Bier, the film is a parable about the repercussions of violence in our everyday lives. Emotionally raw and gripping, the story quickly escalates from small town to global village, localized bullying to widespread terrorism. And poignantly demonstrates the yin and yang humans face between positions of reconciliation and reaction.

Film Event on the Radar:

Vail Film Festival March 31st through April 3rd. Vail and Beaver Creek. The 8th Annual VFF will take place in Vail and Beaver Creek and include film screenings, classes, panel discussions, live music, galas, a filmmaker reception, first track skiing, and a closing brunch. Integrating the great outdoors with the great indoors, the VFF honors rising stars, renegades, and legends of cinema like Harold Ramis, Kevin Smith, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Redford, etc. This year, feature films include Falling Overnight, Losing Control, Super, and Red Dog. And tribute award recipients: Josh Lucas, Kate Bosworth, and Michael Imperioli.

For tickets and schedule details, visit the Vail Film Festival home at: http://www.vailfilmfest.com/