Updated: Oct 24, 2020
In its persistent mission and zeal to promote good cinema and enable filmmakers across the world to explore the opportunities available, the Indian Film Institute brings you Mr. Brian Ganon, Director, Austin Film Commission, Texas, USA.
The Austin Film Commission works to bring ready to film productions to the City of Austin and promote productions filmed in Austin. They advocate for productions filming in the city—be facilitating local crew and locations or navigating the local permitting processes and questions that come up in the production process.
Filming ecosystem in Austin, TX
Austin is a very film-friendly community. Over 300 days of sunshine allow for year-round filming. We have a deep pool of seasoned crew and production staff as well as over a dozen production facilities and many industry supply vendors. We have straight forward local permitting processes to help filmmakers. There is a vibrant film community with many screenings and community meetings throughout the year (festivals, schools, and industry organizations).
Austin is the perfect town for a cinema enthusiast. There are over a dozen local film organizations including the Austin Film Society offers screenings at their cinema and a yearly Texas Filmmaker Grant. Austin is home to Rooster Teeth Productions, a brick, and mortar new media production/distribution company that employs over 250 people. Filmmakers around town work on everything from big studio features to small indie art film. The community is open with filmmakers trading duties on each other’s works to make sure everyone can get their project off the ground.
Austin has direct flights to London, Los Angles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Paris and many more making it easy for talent to travel.
Rebate / Subsidy structure of Austin, TX
The State of Texas offers up to 22.5% cash grants to filmmakers with 60% of total production days completed in Texas. Budgeted at $50 million through 2021. More information at https://gov.texas.gov/film/page/overview
The City of Austin offers an additional incentive to projects produced locally that qualify for the State Incentive – those productions are eligible for an additional 0.75% incentive from the city. More information at https://austintexas.gov/department/film-incentives
Taxation systems in Austin, TX?
There is a state/local tax of 8.25% on purchases.
What are you doing to improve the film ecosystem and film tourism?
We promote the productions that shoot here in town and the talent involved to amplify the film tourism side of things.
We market Austin at industry events, trade shows, and film festivals. Our office works to promote the area as a hub for film, television, and commercial production to the decision-makers who can facilitate bringing ready-to-film projects to town and advocate for those productions that are taking place in Austin.
We Market Austin film resources directly to studios and filmmakers which includes: crew, locations, incentives, studio facilities, office space, vendors, amenities, film production companies, and hotels.
Act as liaison between film production companies and local resources and governing bodies. We keep an up-to-date vendor/crew database as well as a location database with over 1,000 regional properties that may potentially be available to rent for filming.
We work directly with production filming in the area to make sure projects have solutions to any issues that might arise during filming. If there are issues we are here to problem-solve.
The City of Austin, through its Cultural Arts Division also helps with funding for the over 30 local film and television festivals like SXSW, RTX, Austin Asian American Film Festival, Capital City Black Film Festival, ATX TV Fest, Indie Meme, aFLIFF, Other Worlds, Cine Los Americas, Austin Revolution Film Festival, Fantastic Fest and Austin Film Festival which bring attendees from around the world and celebrate films of all diverse international and genre types.
How valuable do you think film tourism is for your region?
Film tourism is valuable. There is no better export of the regional culture and get a city on the map than to have the city featured in the film, television, and commercial productions that are broadcast streamed, or projected on screens nationally and internationally. We have had a number of high profile projects film here that have brought in guests from around the world including Dazed and Confused, Office Space, Friday Night Lights, Sky Kids, Tree of Life, Transformers 4, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Fear the Walking Dead.
Visitors seeing movies and television shows from Austin then come and stay at our hotels, eat at restaurants, and spend locally as they explore and experience Austin. The local festivals also draw visitors coming in for the conference and film premieres.
What are some of the unique locations that filmmakers across the globe can look forward to in your country/region?
Austin is the gateway to the west. Due west of the city is the hill country, with rolling rocky, picturesque ranchland stretching for miles and miles – perfect for a western or period piece. Downtown is very modern and the neighborhoods surrounding are varied in architectural types in neighborhoods build through the decades. It’s also very green for a city. To the east are a number of small towns, utilized quite a bit as they have the perfect classic all-American look with farms and beautiful rural roadways. There are real cost savings as all of these locations are located within 45 minutes of downtown.
How easy is the permission process, and what's the time the agencies take?
Most permits, be it for city parks or roadways, take about a week on average for turnaround. Larger shoots may take longer depending on the impact. Currently, there may be COVID related factors that will also come into play.
What is the Competitive edge your region offers vis-a-vis others? Why should one shoot a film in your region?
We have a professional crew base that has been working in Austin for years – able to film everything from a small commercial to a large blockbuster. These skilled technicians can bring your project in on time and on budget. Locally, within 30 minutes of downtown Austin, there are Americana small towns and ranchland that are perfect for period pieces.