Inside the Capitol

Thursday, April 02, 2009

4-9 Que Viva Tamalewood

MON, 4-06-09

SANTA FE - Tamalewood is still in business. It was touch and go there for awhile with dueling studies indicating that the movie industry is contributing either 15 cents or $1.50 for each dollar the state puts into its film making incentives.
Some legislative financial leaders wanted to put a cap on the amount of rebates it could pay out in order to attract more movie business. That would be similar to a company stopping payment of commissions because its sales force was selling more than anticipated.
How could two studies be so far apart? It depends on how far out they go in measuring the secondary and tertiary effects of an industry. Most impressive were the findings that 2,220 new jobs and 200 new film-related businesses have been created since Gov. Gary Johnson and state Sen. Shannon Robinson got the ball rolling at the end of Johnson's term.
The Richardson administration put on a full-court press after the Legislative Finance Committee released its study indicating the film industry isn't worth the money spent in keeping it here.
The November 2008 edition of the New Mexico magazine was featured as a collector's edition and titled, "Hooray for Tamalewood." Certainly the issue wasn't put together in a few weeks but the Richardson administration knew it would have to work hard to keep the money flowing in a year of fiscal austerity.
In case the name "Tamalewood" is not familiar to you, it has been used to describe New Mexico's film industry since its renaissance back around 2003. It is a takeoff on other movie and music centers, such as Bollywood and Dollywood.
Not everyone likes the name but it is popular enough to fight about. Leonard Sanchez of Santa Fe has trademarked it for film production and clothing purposes but hasn't copyrighted it, which may be why the state Department of Tourism could use it on the cover of its November magazine.
The name Bollywood is not particularly appreciated by the film industry centered in Mumbai, formerly Bombay, India, but that's what Hollywood likes to call it so that's what we will continue to hear.
We got to hear a lot of Bollywood talk earlier this year when "Slumdog Millionaire" won an Oscar. Obviously millions of Americans loved it as a feel-good story. But my movie-going friends had the opposite reaction. They were repulsed by the conditions under which the poor children of Mumbai have to exist. They left the movie feeling depressed and upset.
Soon after the movie became so popular, letters began appearing in local newspapers telling how people can help the poor children of India. It all involved sending money. That speaks to the greatness of this nation when its people can be that concerned about helping the long oppressed despite our own financial problems.
But is that really the most effective way to help, I've been asked? India bills itself as the largest democracy in the world. It also is working very hard to become the biggest economy in the world. It definitely is in competition with us and it draws nearer to overtaking our economy every time we outsource more work to them.
So where is the disconnect? If India is an economically powerful democracy, why can't it do more about the problems of its poor? Why do its people need help from other countries around the world?
The answer seems to be that India is a country of a billion people divided into many different ethnicities, religions, classes, castes and regional differences, each of which has its own political party. These parties all duke it out in a parliamentary form of government, fashioned after its former British rulers.
So not much gets done other than for the business class doing a good job of handling the economy. That economy could be so much stronger with a focus on the young.

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