On February 23, 1836, the Battle of the Alamo commenced, marking the date when the meager Texas forces secured a place in middle school history textbooks for generations to come. But while San Antonio denizens are proud to tout the city’s historical significance, present-day attractions are the real story when it comes to moviemaking.
Texas offers some unique financial benefits for shooting in-state, including the recently announced Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program. This new incentive offers grants equal to five percent of spending that’s done in-state, with an additional 1.25 percent for films utilizing underused areas of the state. The program is yet another financial break offered by The Lone Star State, which already provides moviemakers with tax exemptions for items rented or purchased for a film and tax refunds for extended stays in hotels and off-road fuel (i.e. for boats or generators). Without enticing locales however, financial incentives mean little to prospective moviemakers looking for the right location. Luckily, San Antonio strikes a unique balance of urban sprawl and historical sites, all with a culture heavily influenced by its Mexican neighbors.
Also attracting moviemakers to the city is the San Antonio Film Forum. This monthly discussion series focuses on educating local moviemakers, while strengthening the city’s film community.
To find out more about this growing community, MM asked several local moviemakers what makes the Alamo City such an ideal location. Their responses are below.
Living in Texas—and San Antonio in particular—is great for filmmakers. The Texas Film Commission in San Antonio, headed up by Drew Mayer-Oaks, has helped me tremendously. They take filmmaking in Texas very seriously and work hard to provide indie moviemakers like myself with the resources they need to complete films and get them to the public. I also find the general public to be very interested in filmmaking, and helpful when needed.
—Anthony Henslee, Director (Palo Pinto Gold)
“Isolation breeds originality.” Not being in Hollywood helps us with creativity and being able to come up with different or “out of the norm” ideas.
—Paul Ramirez, Producer/Director
San Antonio is a city where it helps to foster moviemakers, because a sense of community helps in many bases, from easy and accessible city property permits to actually lending a hand to others. That spirit in turn stimulates moviemakers to produce—and keep producing—in San Antonio.
—Ricardo Mendoza, Writer/Director (Ash Wednesday: Capitulo Unus)
San Antonio is a great place for filmmakers to consider because it has mild climate conditions throughout the year. It also has a different look than any other area that we typically see and there is a limitless variety of locales in and around the city. The city also has excellent resources to draw from, there are excellent accommodations and the people are friendly. It’s a warm and welcoming place to work.
—Annette Hoffman McCaughtry, Film Costumer (The Alamo, Sin City)
San Antonio is a city that’s full of culture and flair. It’s a little hard to find a crew out here, but as long as you write within your means the city and its people are more then accommodating. With so many untouched locations it’s amazing that more people don’t film here. We were able to make a film called The Lawless for pennies; because of the locations and talent, we found that our production value was through the roof.
—Phillip Reyn Guzman, Writer/Director/Producer (The Lawless)
San Antonio is a perfect place for filming because of its people, culture and locations. It’s like a filmmaker’s paradise that has been untouched for centuries, just waiting for film conquistadores to hit shore.
—Daniel Maldonado, Director/Cinematographer (The Servants)
Richly preserved historical architecture, San Antonio is the urbano masterpiece. From southside barrios to exuberant mansions, it’s a locations manager’s dream. Fire is in the Tex Mex Chicano Vato-belly. Shoot a film here to address the anguish of the human condition versus reality/destiny in society. Embrace San Antonio.
—Kelley Collopy Hankins, Scenic Artist/Signwriter