SCENE 2257, TAKE THREE
Back in July I posted this blog about the Federal Government’s new “2257” regulations and wondered why the independent film community, which can mobilize armies at the withdrawal of promotional screeners, has had so little to say about this bill which, while targeting the adult entertainment industry, looks to spread quite a bit of collateral damage. A week later I posted again after some readers added their own comments to the end of my original article. Now, today, finally, I read in The Hollywood Reporter a piece by Brooks Bollek which describes a ‘buried clause” in the regulation that could affect studio and independent movies.
For anyone who has looked at this regulation, its implications on non-adult media have been pretty clear from the outset, and I’m surprised it’s taken so long for an industry publication to note that many mainstream producers are probably unwittingly violating this bill right now. For those in the dark, the rule requires producers of films containing sex scenes — even, possibly, scenes in which the actors are clothed — to adhere to absurdly cumbersome recordkeeping requirements. The bill seems clearly an attempt to do with rules and regulations what courts reviewing obscenity cases have been unwilling to do.
From the article, which quotes unnamed Hollywood execs:
“The provision, written by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., could have ramifications beyond simply requiring someone to ensure that the names and ages of actors who partake in pretend lovemaking as compliance with Section 2257 in effect defines a movie or TV show as a pornographic work under federal law. Industry sources say the provision was included in the bill at the behest of the Justice Department. Calls to Pence’s office and the Justice Department went unreturned Tuesday.
Industry executives worry that the provision, which is retroactive to 1995, will have a chilling effect on filmmakers. Faced with the choice of filing a 2257 certificate or editing out a scene, a filmmaker might decide it’s not worth getting entangled with the federal government and let the scene fall to the cutting-room floor, the executives said.
“From the creative side of the street, there’s concern that the government of federal law enforcement would get involved in what you were doing,” one industry source said. ‘At some point, people would be faced with the decision: Do I include the scene and register a 2257 or leave it out?
“The 2257 provision also has ramifications beyond the artistic as a federal tax provision designed to stem runaway production is unavailable to anyone required to register a 2257. Many state incentives designed to entice filmmakers to shoot on location also contain similar language.”
Digest that last bit — make a movie with even simulated sex and become ineligible for the film tax deduction contained with the Federal Jobs Creation Act.