The Texas Film Commission (TFC) has a program that offers about 10% back of money spent in Texas for films that employ Texas residents as 70% of their cast and crew. This would have a huge beneficial impact on the budget of RIK, so I wanted to make sure that we qualified and applied for it.
Angel and made an appointment with the head of the Dallas office of the TFC and I sent a copy of the screenplay to the director of the office in advance, along with a list of what we’d like in the way of specific help. We wanted not only to qualify for and obtain the incentive, but also wanted help with film locations, a point of contact with local police (to help with authenticity), and contacts to get necessary permits. We knew that there were others who had filmed in Dallas and wanted to make use of what we assumed were well-known procedures and contacts.
We arrived at the TFC and were greeted by two very somber young men who showed us to a conference room. They sat and made polite conversation with us, but wouldn’t answer many questions, telling us to await their boss, who was running late.
When the office director entered and sat at the head of the table, she was scowling, clearly a bad sign. We made introductions, then she got right to business. She said she had read the screenplay while she was on an airplane back to Dallas. The look on her face was as if she’d just eaten something that tasted very bad; she actually made a face. She proceeded to tell us that the plot and some of the action in the film are repugnant and that she didn’t think that the film would be something that the City of Dallas would want to be associated with. Then she specifically addressed our request that we be able to film at the police department saying, “I can assure you that the Dallas Police would turn down your request, based on the nature of your screenplay.”
I was shocked. Could it really be that the TFC was exercising censorship, trying to determine what the content should be of films made in Dallas? Would she really deny us help with the film because she objected to the screenplay? As it turned out, the answer was yes.
Early the next morning, we received word from the TFC that the Dallas Police Department (DPD) had, indeed, declined our request to film outside their headquarters, to provide a point of contact for advice, or to help us in any way whatsoever. I found this to be remarkable not only with regard to the speed of the reply, but to its comprehensiveness.
I decided to call the DPD Office of Public Affairs myself. I explained to the representative on the phone what we were doing, the nature of the film, and asked if I might have an appointment with her to discuss DPD help. She was very friendly and agreed readily to see me. However, before that meeting could ever take place, it was inexplicably cancelled and my calls were no longer returned.
Not long after the meeting with the TFC, we were told that there would be absolutely no funds available to us from the Incentive Program. In fact, we were told that we needn’t even file the paperwork because, although the fiscal year in which we’d film was still 6 months away, all monies had been committed to other projects. The only benefit of this was freeing me up from the requirement to hire Texas residents.
Although the TFC would provide us with a little bit of help over the course of the project—most importantly to post our job openings on the TFC website—Angel and I agreed early on that we could not depend upon the TFC for important help. In fact, as we later learned, the TFC Dallas office sought to undermine our project by telling officials at the City of Mesquite, where we received help with the filming, that they should not be associating their city with such a movie as ours.