Thursday, July 10, 2014

City Paper Profiles New D.C. Film Czar Pierre Bagley

The Washington City Paper this week profiles Pierre Bagley, new director of the District’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development. Bagley is an accomplished movie director and producer so there are high hopes that his showbiz background will translate into more Hollywood productions choosing to shoot feature films and television shows in the nation's capital.

D.C. has always been a tough sell because of the bureaucratic permitting maze and lack of tax incentives that has lured D.C.-based movies and shows to neighboring Maryland and other states with more robust rebates.

Will Bagley turn Washington into Hollywood East? Time will tell. The one hopeful sign is that there really is nowhere to go but up when it comes to luring film and TV productions to the nation's capital.

Click here for the story.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Washington Post Fails Asking Why D.C.-Based Emmy Shows Not Lensed in District

Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright star in D.C.-based, Baltimore-shot 'House of Cards.' The Netflix show received nine Emmy nominations. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon – © Melinda Sue Gordon / Knight Takes King Prod.
The Washington Post wrote recently about the impressive list of Emmy-nominated shows based in the nation's capital that weren't actually filmed in the District of Columbia -- "House of Cards" and "Veep" were filmed in Baltimore; "Homeland" was shot in Charlotte; "Scandal" lensed in Los Angeles; and "Political Animals" was filmed in Philadelphia.

But The Post fails to ask the most important question: Why weren't these D.C.-based shows actually filmed in Washington's city limits? The fact is that places like Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and California simply offer better incentives for production crews looking to save as much money as possible to stay within budget.

Another factor in productions choosing not to film in the District has to do with challenge of obtaining permits to shoot near landmarks like the Washington Monument and Capitol Building.

While the city council has discussed putting together a competitive incentives package to lure productions, nothing so far has been passed. Until D.C. gets serious about D.C.-based productions actually shooting in the city, states like North Carolina with its 25 percent tax incentive will gladly stand in for the national capital.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

USA Today Highlights D.C.-Set TV Shows Not Shot in D.C.

USA Today has become the latest publication to point out the many Washington, D.C.-set television and film productions that shoot in other states because of better incentives and easier permitting. Examples include Showtime's "Homeland" (North Carolina), USA's "Political Animals" (Pennsylvania) and HBO's "Veep" (Maryland). All three of those states offer 25% tax rebates.

Click here for the link to the story and click here for the accompanying photo gallery with more D.C.-set TV shows that don't shoot in The District.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Movie Marketing 'Campaign' in NYC

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakas starrer "The Campaign" opened this weekend nationwide. The Jay Roach-directed political comedy is performing well at the box office, with an expected haul of up to $30 million by the end of the weekend.

I recently moved from my hometown of Washington, D.C. to New York City and decided to snap some photos of the D.C.-themed film about two rival North Carolina congressional candidates. Warner Bros. plastered New York City with billboards and posters promoting the film. Seeing the ads across Gotham with the Capitol dome in the background has been fun for this native Washingtonian.

Here are the photos:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

D.C.-set 'Political Animals' filmed in Philadelphia

This is becoming routine. A Washington, D.C.-set movie or TV show is lensed in another city because of better production incentives. I'm living in New York City at the moment and have seen promotional posters everywhere for the upcoming USA Network miniseries "Political Animals" and became curious as to where it was filmed.

Despite the storyline revolving around Sigourney Weaver's character Elaine Barrish, who is a former First Lady and current Secretary of State, "Political Animals" was filmed not in the nation's capital but in the city of brotherly love. 

And what does the state of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia offer to film crews? 

PA offers a 25 percent tax credit, plus a hotel tax exemption and allowing free use of state-owned property. For more info, visit the Film in PA Web site. Philadelphia offers free police assistance under certain conditions and free security site assessment. Click here for the link to the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. 

Philadelphia. Baltimore. New York City. Everyone it seems lately is stealing away D.C.-set films and TV shows from the nation's capital. It's time for Washington to get its act together and put together a serious incentives package to lure productions to The District where they belong.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

'Avengers' Delivers Powerful Clean Energy Message

The Tesseract. Image credit: Marvel

Unemployment. Austerity. War. Terrorism. Climate Change. The world needs superheroes now more than ever. Along comes Marvel's "The Avengers" to rave reviews and boffo box office. In tough times, movie audiences crave escapist entertainment and larger than life superheroes, which could help explain why "The Avengers" set a box office record for the biggest opening weekend ever in North America, tied for the fastest film to reach $1 billion and is currently the third highest grossing film of all time with a worldwide haul of nearly $1.4 billion.

That's a lot of people that are absorbing the film's clean energy message -- the sustainable energy source called the Tesseract. There have been different reactions to the film's renewable energy message -- some positive, some critical.

Evangelical environmentalist Rev. Jim Ball, author of "Global Warming and the risen LORD," believes the movie missed a chance to educate audiences about climate change. He doesn't think the film answers the question as to why we need clean energy. Ball postulates that climate change denying conservatives could be influencing Hollywood to tone down the global warming message.

And actor Mark Ruffalo, who plays Dr. Banner-The Incredible Hulk in the movie, wrote a piece yesterday in The Huffington Post making the connection between the Tesseract and renewable energy sources wind, water and sunlight (WWS). Ruffalo calls for a clean energy revolution to create jobs and revitalize the economy.

Even U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu promoted the film's clean energy message on his Facebook page by posting this message:
I can rarely find the time to make it to the movies, but my staff is buzzing about The Avengers, which focuses on a new, limitless clean energy source called “The Tesseract.” In the film, there is evidently an intergalactic struggle to claim this new resource – one we can only win by relying on heroes like Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, and the Incredible Hulk. Naturally, the group includes a couple scientists!

While the “Tesseract” may be fictional, the real-life global competition over clean energy is growing increasingly intense, as countries around the world sense a huge economic opportunity AND the opportunity for cleaner air, water, and a healthier planet. This is now a $260 billion global market, a sum that would impress even Tony Stark. According to the International Energy Agency, last year — for the first time — more money was invested worldwide in clean, renewable power plants than in fossil fuel power plants.

Given how big the opportunity is, and how fast it is growing, it is no surprise that 80 countries have adopted policies or incentives to capture a share of the clean energy market. The good news is that we have an advantage every bit as powerful as the Incredible Hulk: Americans’ talent for entrepreneurship and innovation is unrivalled by any other country in the world. We have world-leading scientific facilities that would make Bruce Banner green with envy, and the investments we’re making today in groundbreaking new technologies can help American businesses stay ahead of the curve.

Ultimately, however, the clean energy prize is still up for grabs and countries like China are competing aggressively. It’s not enough for us to simply invent the technologies of the future, we need to actually build and deploy them here as well. As President Obama noted recently, one step Congress should take immediately is to renew the expiring tax credits for clean energy – a step that will create jobs and help American companies compete. When it comes to clean energy, our motto should be: “Invented in America, Made in America, Sold Around the World.”
What do you think about the clean energy message of "The Avengers"? Can we make the Tesseract a reality right now to save the planet with wind turbines, hydroelectricity and solar panels? What will it take for the renewable energy revolution to move full speed ahead?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hollywood Liberalizes Washington at White House Correspondents' Dinner

Tom Brokaw is wrong. It's not time to "rethink" the White House Correspondents' Dinner. The WHCD is the one night of the year when staid, conservative D.C. is shaken up by Tinseltown progressives. Hollywood is full of unabashed liberals who want things like universal health care and world-class public education. And that's a good thing. And Washington conservatives need to hear from the artistic establishment on the Left Coast.

Even President Obama's reelection campaign is getting the message. There was a time when Obama tried to distance himself from politically active celebrities. Not anymore. Obama recently held a fundraiser at actor George Clooney's Studio City, California home and even played basketball with the Hollywood star and supporter of the president. Next Obama will be visiting the New York City home of actress Sarah Jessica Parker and husband actor Matthew Broderick for another fundraiser. 

Hollywood can play a powerful role in helping reelect President Obama and it is encouraging to see the campaign embrace the showbiz community. Obama has many allies in Los Angeles, and that is good for the country. Right-wing Republicans will predictably and cynically say the president is too close to Hollywood. Let them. Those socialists in Hollywood create jobs and contribute to the economy. The entertainment industry supports more than 2.4 million jobs nationwide and is one of the few American industries with a positive trade surplus of $11.7 billion, not to mention the billions of dollars generated to local and state governments in the form of income and sales taxes.

The entertainment industry and the hard working people in Hollywood are as American as truck drivers and apple pie. And the more influence Hollywood has on Washington the better the country will be.

Click here for Politico's feature report on last month's White House Correspondents' Dinner.