TXMPA Lobby Day Draws Crowd to Capitol Supporting Film and Television Production in Texas

10 03 2009

Austin, Texas
March 4, 2009
An overcast sky gave way to a beautiful day in Austin as hundreds of people in the moving image industries (film, video, gaming) converged on the Texas State Capitol showing support for legislation which, if passed, will help repair the severely damaged industry in our state. It was an eye-opening experience for me, a Director of Photography, as I spend most of my time working on small crew productions, with little interaction with others in my industry. So, to be on the steps of the Capitol with a nice crowd who all have similar interests helped me understand the scope of the industry and how each of us play a part in a vital economic engine of the state.
This is an important cause, which has ripple effects to a multitude of support businesses, including hotels, restaurants, rental car companies, and on and on. Statistics show that we have lost more than $500 million in revenue and more than 7000 jobs across the state in recent years. Why? Because other states, most notably Louisiana and New Mexico, instituted major tax incentives to lure big budget projects to their states, and it has worked. Many of our fellow Texans have had to move out of state or commute back and forth to these neighboring states in order to stay in business. Given our long history with film production in Texas, this is a crying shame.
See Films Shot in Texas since 1910

The Texas Motion Picture Alliance is a statewide grass roots organization that I am proud to be a part of, and it is only through their tireless efforts that this legislation exists and has a chance at reversing the trend of jobs and revenue related to moving image industries shifting to other states.

This is an effort which should concern ALL Texans, not just those of us working directly in the industry, because television, film and gaming production in the state brings more jobs in various related industries, and because we at one time were considered “the third coast” for film production, and we have seen it seep away. There are many projects where Texas would be the first choice for production, because of the great locations available, and well trained, well equipped crews, but we are losing out because of the incentives offered by our neighboring states, and others around the country. Once this business is completely gone, it will be hard to bring it back.
Please support HB 873 and SB 605. It’s important to all of us.

Get involved! Join Texas Motion Picture Alliance
Read the story from Associated Press

From Don Stokes, President of Texas Motion Picture Alliance:

“Our lobbying effort is a community affair. It will take the efforts of all of us in the industry to make the enhanced incentive program a reality. Lobby Day 2009 was a phenomenal success and certainly raised industry awareness among the legislators. It is my honor as President of TXMPA to be part of this immense team.

We participated in the initial hearing on HB 873 on Wednesday, March 4 during our Lobby Day efforts. The witnesses that spoke on our behalf did so passionately and from the heart. Their testimonies spoke to the problems facing our industry in Texas and to the solutions for bring the business back. The committee members listened and I believe understood our message. I think we will make it out of committee and look forward to the placement of our bill on the House Calendar. At this juncture I feel good about our legislation passing but I know there will be challenges ahead especially on the appropriation front.

I would like to thank everyone for their efforts. Without all of you we wouldn’t stand a chance.

Don Stokes
President TXMPA

From David Friedman:

“Throughout TXMPA Lobby Day 2009, it became evident that legislators from across Texas were gaining a better understanding of how the moving picture industry impacts the economy. Many legislators were already onboard; whereas, some legislators were early in their understanding. The force of everyone pulling in the same direction, starting with Governor Rick Perry and the 700+ constituents at the Capitol, was felt by all the legislators. It was hard to miss on the Senate floor, the House floor, and on the front lawn of the Capitol. It was a great day for the state of Texas and our economy will be better off for it. The bottom line; is, creating and retaining jobs in Texas. Our collective efforts on TXMPA Lobby Day 2009 contributed to the bottom line in a significant way. Many thanks to all who attended in person and to those that were there with us in spirit.”

David S. Friedman, TXMPA, North Texas Regional Representative

Tracy Ready is an independent Writer / Producer / Director of Photography based in Dallas, Texas
See: www.tracetv.tv


Social Networking the New Year, and why not?

31 12 2008

It’s New Years Eve, 2008; Wow! what an amazing year it’s been, through the tumultuous election process and downturn in economy, we are still hanging in here, and feel quite blessed to be at home with family today. Among other things, this has been a year in which I delved headlong into social networking, and it has been fun and rewarding for me both personally and professionally. I have gathered a few thoughts here, that I hope will benefit others, so here we go…

Connections are important, but content is powerful.
I was resistant to the social networking / blogging idea until I began to see the hidden potential for my businesses, and our developing music and documentary film projects. I established our first business site Trace Productions in 1998, and have added two more since, with the help of excellent site designs by cdmgrafx. Through the years our business has been greatly enhanced by the websites, in real business terms, but also in another less definable benefit: the interaction with people all over the world who have sought my services, or expressed an interest, or a common history and wanted to contact me. I’ve been a believer in Internet marketing, and have published an email newsletter to a fairly broad contact base for years, but until this past year, never pursued social networking outlets.

I started using Plaxo some years ago, but didn’t understand the implications. I signed up with Linkedin, but again, didn’t really “get it.” Then my daughter, like millions of teens was pulled into the MySpace world with all her little buddies. I was a crusty old Dad and put on my furrowed brow and scowled about it a bit, but then decided to check it out for myself. I found that many of my professional musician and filmmaker friends were using MySpace to their benefit, and I was hooked. I had similar occurrences with FaceBook and Youtube. Slowly I began to understand the social networking concept, the rewards and the limitations. The thing that is clear is that content means everything. If you don’t have something interesting to say, people don’t listen. You can post all the videos on YouTube you want but if they are not informative, interesting, funny or curious in some sort of way to a broad base of people, its not really going to go anywhere. You can have a blog, but if it’s boring or just completely self-serving, who is going to care? So, the trick is to move forward and reach out, but have something to offer. I would encourage all to engage in social networking but to do so with purpose, and think about this:

What’s the worse that could happen?
Social networking is a free thing (and who doesn’t like that?), and if you are sitting at the house bored, unemployed or both, why not jump in? What you have to gain are connections, knowledge, friendship, business. What do you have to lose? Time? I spend 15-30 minutes a day, but sometimes get sucked into more, because I have fun with it. You could spend as little as 5 minutes a day and still gradually build a database of others who have similar interests, possible job openings, etc. What’s the worse that could happen? You could spend a little time that was otherwise spent in front of the TV and get nothing out of it that interested you. Really, that can’t happen, if you do it right. Or, you could post something that annoys or angers someone else to the point that they start badmouthing you all over the Internet or stalk you at your home. Again, do it right and that won’t happen, which brings me to my next point for this New Year’s missive.

Be careful, but have fun… most importantly, have fun.
Use common sense. Simple. Don’t put your home address anywhere on your websites, blogs, profiles, anywhere. I keep a business mailing address that is posted on my sites, but it’s no one’s business where I live. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, avoid personal attacks at all costs. Try to follow the age old advice “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” This is sometimes hard to follow, in life, and on the Internet, but it is vital to your social networking efforts. Engaging in conversations online about things that you are passionate about is great for building your rankings in the search engines, but watch your words! If you take issue with something someone has posted in any sort of online forum, respond with fact and supportable opinion, but do not attack the person who posted it. Likewise as soon as someone engages in any personal attack against you, restate your qualified opinion and supportable facts on the subject at hand, and then let it go – disengage from the conversation. I have seen too many instances of people getting involved in a “tit-for-tat” argument online that quickly dissolves into juvenile name-calling antics, resulting in all involved parties looking like fools. Remember, the Internet is full of kooks, but plenty of sensible people too. Sometimes its hard to tell who the kooks are at first, but watch what people write about on a regular basis, and soon the kooks’ creepy true colors come through – once you’ve figured out someone is a blathering idiot, leave it alone, don’t waste your time arguing with cretins! (Hey I used the word cretin in a sentence! hahaha).

What about the fun?
Look at it as a game, or a roomful of games. Social networking is a big casino, with lots of rooms with games of chance and the perfect place to people-watch! When I go to Vegas, that’s what I love to do; play some games, watch the parade of life. It’s the same with social networking, but the admission is free, you can stay as long as you can stand it, and all you are risking is time (and personal integrity, see points made above). Every group you join is another craps, blackjack or poker table and you are risking your time trying to win more business, more friends, more information, whatever. Sometimes you join a group (game) that doesn’t fit you – you don’t get along with the people around you, you don’t like the dealer, you think the game is rigged, or whatever – So what? It’s a big casino; have a drink and move to another table, for goodness sakes. Don’t sit there arguing with the idiot insurance guy from Idaho sitting next to you, when there is a table full of more intriguing folks just across the room. Mingle, get to know lots of people, play some games, have fun.
Also, know when to step away. Sometimes you do need to lay out on the couch and read a good book or watch a mindless TV show. Give yourself balance. If you are engaging in social networking and it stops being fun or helpful to you, step away. Forget about it awhile. Don’t get so wrapped in it that it becomes “work”.
Learn to improvise, in life in general. My friend Les McGehee has written an excellent book on the subject titled “Plays Well With Others” which I highly recommend.

Pick and choose
You don’t have to join every networking service that people invite you to. For our purposes, we have different profiles for music and for filmmaking on MySpace, a FaceBook account, a Linkedin Profile, and YouTube profiles. These make sense for my interests and business development. Often, I just copy and paste same information on all profiles, because there are different people connecting to me from a variety of sources. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel or spend extra time creating variations of posts for different outlets. I get plenty of offers to connect in other places, but I have chosen these to actively participate in. Choose networking sites that make sense for you and your business, but limit them in a way that makes it easy for you to keep up with. Also, don’t feel like you have to accept every “add a friend” that you receive. If you don’t know the person requesting connection, look at their profile, see if they may be an interesting connection for you. If not, just politely decline, it’s really no big deal. There’s no harm, no foul in saying no thanks.

Family First
Just like you would be the clod of the month for sitting in the casino drinking and gambling while your wife and kids or parents and grandparents were needing you, don’t bury yourself in the social networking thing at the expense of your family. The real people in your life are the ones you know you could call anytime, anywhere and they would help you. Make sure those people know you are there for them, above all else, because a game is just a game, and family is life.

Those are my thoughts moving forward into the new year. You can peruse our business websites and all of our chosen online connections at TraceTV.tv
Wishing you a joyous and prosperous new year!

Sometimes you just need to chill

Sometimes you just need to chill