Last Thursday, I walked a red carpet just like at the Academy Awards.
San Diego, New Orleans; and Atlanta, among many others are plotting to take the movie business away from the “movie capital of the world.” These upstarts are offering tax breaks, less red tape, and support to bring glitz and glitter (and income) to their communities.
Unlike the others, San Diego has the California regulatory monster, as well as the second highest state income tax in the country. Oregon holds the honor with an 11-percent tax on incomes exceeding $250,000. However, San Diego has an advantage by sharing the Southwest corner with Tinseltown.
While driving to a golf round Saturday, I listened to two talking heads on a Los Angeles news station. They bemoaned the loss of business competition had drained from Hollywood. They noted the stars continued to live in Los Angeles but traveled to the new movie-making locations. The two then agreed that a number of the key support folks were beginning to migrate to the new locations. They cried such migration must stop because it could be the death knell for Hollywood.
One gets used to talking heads and other media predicting doom in the Golden Bear state. Last week, the politicos and media were in huge crisis mode over the drought. They were busy instituting legislation to fix it, which, of course, it won’t, but will create bureaucracies and oversight costing state denizens even more taxes.
This week, these yahoos out to save the world from itself are trying to figure out how to deal with El Niño, the ocean-warming effect that pummels the left coast with rain, lots and lots of rain. Hmmm…
But back to movie-making, San Diego is two-hour drive from Hollywood. In traffic, the drive can be four to six hours, and AMTRAK’s coaster is a pleasant way to make the trek. And after tasting the economic fruits of moviedom when the first attempt of Hollywood to go south with the 1970 television series Harry-O went really south and filmmakers fled back north.
But the community expereinced the economic positives of movies and formed San Diego Film Commission in 1976 for becoming a viable alternative to Hollywood. They succeeded with such television series hits as the “Silk Stalkings,” “Traffic,” and “Antwone Fisher.” Perhaps the biggest of all was “Veronica Mars,” which developed a cult following and is now being made into a full-length film.
Two years ago, the Film Consortium San Diego was founded to continue growth in films, and last week launched its first local film awards program.
Before moving to Austin, my younger daughter, Sarah, played the lead role in a short film entitled “Bullets with Butterfly Wings.” Sarah learned the required martial arts from a fellow San Diego State graduate, Fernando Jay Huerta. After learning the moves, she and Jay choreographed the fight scenes in the movie.
“Bullets with Butterfly Wings” was nominated for “Best Fight Choreography.” Since Sarah was in Austin, Jay invited me to attend in her place.
And so I walked down the red carpet Thursday night.
The affair at the Horton Grand Theater was formal. I tried on my tuxedo. It almost fit, but the neck buttons on the shirt didn’t quite reach. Maureen bought me a replacement. Still, I felt like an overstuffed olive.
When I arrived, I discovered there were only about ten men out of the 250 attendees who actually wore formal attire. The rest went from business suits to business casual to red tennis shoes and crazy. Several women would have fit right into the Oscar scenes, but a few of the ladies had some really bad ideas about what dress made them look good.
The affair was like a low-budget Academy Awards. The 14-piece jazz band was good. The emcees and the presenters were entertaining, including Marc McClure who played Jimmy Olsen in the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies. It was a fun evening.
Sarah and Jay’s film didn’t win. It was a bit of a disappointment, but I enjoyed being part of something new. And next year…
During the two-hour event, I kept thinking about Lebanon. I know a music video was made on the square (I can’t recall who the singer was), but I just couldn’t quite picture my home as a movie producer.
I like Lebanon just the way it is.
Jim Jewell, a retired Navy commander lives in San Diego but was raised in Lebanon. His book, A Pocket of Resistance: Selected Poems, is now available through Author House, Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. Jim’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.