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in Filmmaking
on Mar 9, 2010

As the current Massa Meltdown demonstrates, a lot of crazy talk can come out of legislators’ mouths. (For some of that crazy talk, I will definitely be tuning into Glenn Beck tonight when Massa is on for the full hour.) So when I was forwarded this link from Think Progress about a Florida state representative, Stephen Precourt, proposing a change to Florida’s film tax incentive that would deny the credit to films espousing “non-traditional” family values, I assumed it was just one guy shooting his mouth off and that it wasn’t really worth mentioning.

But, as the post as well as a good follow-up from Eric Snyder at Cinematical reveals, this is actually further along than I would have thought something like this could get. In fact, Florida, while granting a 15% incentive to all films, already specifically grants an extra 2% to “family friendly” films. The change is that now: a) the 2% will be upped to 5% and b) “non-traditional family values” films are deliberately excluded from this additional incentive.

From the bill:

A certified production determined by the Commissioner of Film and Entertainment, with the advice of the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council, to be family-friendly…Family-friendly productions are those that have cross-generational appeal; would be considered suitable for viewing by children age 5 or older…and do not exhibit or imply any act of smoking, sex, nudity, nontraditional family values, gratuitous violence, or vulgar or profane language. Under the current incentive program, review of the final release version is not required and nontraditional family values, gratuitous violence, and implied acts do not exclude a film from receiving this additional credit.

Want your insanity in something other than legalese? Here is Precourt explaining himself to the Palm Beach Post, which titled their piece, “Florida bill to reward ‘family-friendly’ films is derided as 1950s-style moral censorship”:

“Think of it as like Mayberry,” state Rep. Stephen Precourt, R-Orlando, said, referring to The Andy Griffith Show. “That’s when I grew up — the ’60s. That’s what life was like. I want Florida to be known for making those kinds of movies: Disney movies for kids and all that stuff. Like it used to be, you know?”

Now, there seems to be a bit of a debate in Florida now over the meaning of the word “non-traditional,” a debate to which Governor Charlie Crist, struggling in the polls, has weighed in:

“Let me define it in the positive,” said Gov. Charlie Crist, who wants lawmakers to approve a $55 million corporate income tax cut he has proposed. “A traditional family is a marriage between a man and a woman. That’s traditional.”

But gay-themed films are not the only ones affected. Also from the Palm Beach Post:

One movie has been turned down: the 2008 film Bait Shop with comedian Bill Engval, which Fishburne said included too much drinking to be considered appropriate for a 5-year-old.

Aren’t these film incentives economic ones? Don’t people holding “non-traditional family values” pay taxes and generate economic activity? This is obviously an outrageous amendment and I hope the more sensible heads in the Florida legislature strike this before their filmmaking incentive becomes a disincentive to many of us in the film business.

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