Association for the Future of Film and Television


It's Time to Smell the Coffee!

Posted by affttennessee on January 30, 2011 at 12:54 PM



The following article from last week's The Daily News in Memphis makes it pretty darned clear where our new administration stands on spending. There IS nothing to spend.

And again, as in other recent news stories about the Governor's economic plans for the state, he is asked about film and television issue critical to Memphis and part of their legislative agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

And while many of us may see the Governor's responses as a negative attitude towards the film and television industry, we must carefully consider the climate in which we are working. 

  • We have a very new Legislature that is now dominated by conservatives, many of whom have brought an acute cut-the-spending mindset with them from all over the state.
  • Federal dollars that have been used over the last few years to prop up struggling programs that help Tennessee citizens are depleted.
  • Tax revenues, though improving, are still far below the flush-with-money days of 2006 (the year the Visual Content Act was passed).
  • Too many people from a myriad of industries in Tennessee are still wondering what on Earth the future holds for them as the unemployment rate still hovers at 9.4%.

Nonetheless, we must work to convince this administration that Tennessee's entertainment industry must be helped. We must carefully make a case to the Legislature that we are interested in the long-term health of our industry, not a knee-jerk response to the crippling competition of film & television incentives.

It's time to smell the coffee, folks.

Articles by the dozens have appeared from all over the country recently that chronicle the decisions being made by states to re-think their incentive programs. Rebate programs will become extinct. Tax credits will be reduced to levels that are reasonable for states and will no longer reflect the gold-rush mentality of seeing which state can out-incentivize the other in hopes of becoming the next Hollywood.

And while other states are wringing their hands over soundstage bankruptcies and the loss of production projects to the momentary "king of incentives," we should craft a message that is reasonable, thoughtful and conservative...a message with an eye on the future.

We must all STOP believing that the economy for this country has recovered from that icky little illness now and that we can go about the business of reckless spending which feeds our addiction to immediate gratification.  By the same token, we must find a way to nurture the one industry for which Tennessee is recognized worldwide. We must create a path of continued employment for the hardworking and creative people of the state.

We must restrain ourselves from the temptation of crying that we should compete head-to-head with Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico or Michigan....because the days of dominance for those states are fast fizzling. On the other hand, we must plan to sustain and grow our industry (and the livelihoods that depend upon it) until the exhausting incentive battle among states is overcome by economic crisis.

AFFT has requested a meeting with Governor Haslam and that request has been received and acknowledged.  We have marshaled our forces across the state in readiness to meet with Legislators to make our case for a reasonable incentive package that will stop the exodus of our talent and rebuild our industry over the next five years. The research we have gathered about our industry, the economy, incentives.... the new knowledge we have about the legislature and the administration will culminate in a message that can be HEARD...not dismissed... by our lawmakers.

The late Jimmy Dean once said, “I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

Now we MUST adjust to a new economy, a new administration, a new legislature. We MUST work within these new parameters to reach our destination. We must resist our desires to be angry, combative and whiney. More than ever, we need all the friends we can make. We must hone our abilities to deliver a message that is easily understood and compelling.

How well we ALL do this for ourselves and our state will determine whether the life of Tennessee's entertainment industry becomes a remake of "The Last Man Standing" ......or "Dead Men Walking."


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1 Comment

Reply Sherry Landrum
12:42 PM on February 2, 2011 
I agree with the tenor of this article. We have to be creative in how we get this industry moving in Tennessee. Everyone, including Hollywood is suffering from this economic crisis. Georgia is considering cutting their incentives. So, I think the writer is right, we need to trim our sails to a different wind direction.