Document:California Press Release 2 November 1999 Plan to Loan City Dollars to Movies is More Than a Phantom Menace

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400 Capitol Mall, Suite 900
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 449-3941
For immediate release: November 2, 1999
For additional information:
Juan Ros, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 506-0200

Plan to loan city dollars to movies is more than a phantom menace, Libertarians say

LOS ANGELES -- A new city proposal to provide financing for low budget films is "not just a phantom menace, but a very real one," the Libertarian Party of California announced today.

"This idea is worse than the plots of 'Waterworld,' 'Ishtar,' and 'Hudson Hawk' combined," said Libertarian state executive director Juan Ros. "But whereas those turkeys were bankrolled privately, Los Angeles taxpayers will be the big losers if the city proceeds with this proposal."

The brainchild of Los Angeles Councilman Mike Hernandez, the plan would provide low-interest loans to cover production costs for films with budgets under $5 million.

"Councilman Hernandez must have his eyes wide shut to propose such a flawed program. History has shown that government and the arts never mix. Just like the recent controversy in Brooklyn over a dung-smeared painting of the Virgin Mary, this proposal runs the same risks of generating controversy," Ros said.

"Who will decide which films get the loans and which don't? What about subject matter? Are bureaucrats going to fund 'controversial' films -- like those with graphic sexual and violent content -- or will those films be locked out of funding?" asked Ros. "Filmmakers will argue that the government is restricting their freedom of expression by rejecting films with controversial subject matter. At the same time, taxpayers who may be offended by such films won't want to subsidize them."

The answer, Ros proposed, is for government to stay out of the arts business. "Government money brings political baggage along with it. The arts should be free expressions of individual creativity, not products of bureaucratic control and government influence."

Hernandez explained that his plan is a response to "runaway productions" -- films that save production costs by shooting outside of Los Angeles in cheaper locations, usually Canada.

"Los Angeles can make filmmaking friendlier and cheaper by loosening regulations and lowering the tax burden on businesses. Unions can assist by easing restrictions on producers of low budget films," Ros suggested.

And how do Libertarians know Hernandez's plan is a bad idea? "We have a sixth sense about these things," Ros answered. "Just like the 'Towering Inferno,' this plan is destined to go up in smoke."