SAN ANTONIO -- On Thursday City Council approved the most generous film incentives in Texas, part of a move filmmakers say will draw tens, or possibly hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.
Filmmaker Kerry Valderrama, a board member of the San Antonio Film Society, said San Antonio has enjoyed a vibrant indie scene, along with ample opportunities for commercials and music videos.
But the only two widely known feature films to be shot here were Miss Congeniality in the early 2000’s, and Selena in the 1990s.
Valderrama said it isn’t because of the location.
“I’d like to say that production companies will just look at beautiful locations, friendly crews,” said Valderrama. “But in reality, film incentives are a major component.”
Even without a big market for major Hollywood productions, San Antonio has enjoyed roughly $50 million in economic impact from film in the past three years.
The new incentives are expected to change that.
Under the new program, filmmakers who shoot in San Antonio can have as much as 7.5% of their production costs offset through city rebates. That’s significantly more than the city’s previous 2.5% limit, and by far the most generous city-wide incentive in Texas.
Along with statewide film rebates, major productions can have up to 30% of their costs offset. That’s on par with cities in Georgia, New Mexico, and Louisiana.
Debbie Racca-Sittre, the interim director of the city’s Department for Culture and Creative Development, says that means more production designers, artists, even more money in hotels and restaurants.
The Texas Motion Picture Alliance estimates every dollar spent on production generates $4.98 in economic benefit
That’s the city has set a lofty goal.
“We would have at least two major films made in San Antonio per year, at the budget of between 10 and 20 million dollars,” said Racca-Sittre.
That would likely take a while to achieve, but Valderrama says he’s already seeing some results.
“I’ve been receiving calls all this morning, all yesterday as soon as it went through,” said Valderrama. “People saying ‘we want to come to San Antonio and shoot. Let’s get the ball rolling on that.’”