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Find production companies, locations services, film equipment and camera rental companies, post production companies, film crew, and many more production services for your commercial, TV or film production in Texas, USA, including Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Carrollton.

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Filming - A practical guide to filming in Texas, USA

Overview

The iconic state of Texas is no stranger to film and TV production. But last year’s decision to triple the size of its incentive programme has certainly made Texas a much more attractive place to base a production. It’s no coincidence, for example, that season two of NBC TV series Revolution was shot in Texas, having previously been based in North Carolina.

The decision to increase the incentive (more on this below) is partly about boosting the local economy. But it’s also a defensive measure to ensure productions that should be shot in Texas don’t go elsewhere. Recently, the critically-acclaimed Dallas Buyers Club (2013) shot Dallas in Louisiana. Meanwhile, new TV show The Night Shift is using New Mexico to double for Texas.

In terms of what it has to offer, Texas is vast and varied. It has diverse rural and urban locations and state of the art facilities. It also has a good public support network, headed by the Texas Film Commission and 12 regional film commissions.

Not to be overlooked are the great climate, which makes shooting possible throughout most of the year, and the state’s ultra-modern infrastructure which makes the practicalities of travel and accommodation relatively straightforward.

Recent Productions

Robert Rodriguez most recently filmed his sci-fi action movie Alita: Battle Angel at his Troublemaker Studios facility in Austin, but producers are otherwise limited by the state's filming incentive support - big-budget Hollywood shoots are a rarity. 

Occasionally, larger shoots have been able to base themselves in Texas due to specific production conditions. War drama The Long Road Home was able to shoot entirely in the state as the producers were able to use military base Ford Hood as a filming location. 

 

Permits

In general, Texas does not require film permits. However, local governments may require permits to film on city-owned properties, including city streets and parks. The Texas Film Commission’s location department can put producers in touch with the appropriate offices to arrange permission and initiate the permit process. If interested in filming at property owned and/or operated by the State of Texas, the Texas Film Commission must be the first port of call. It will help determine which locations suit the project, navigate through the rules and restrictions for filming at the facilities, and serve as a liaison to the appropriate state agencies. The commission can also connect producers to the appropriate people at municipalities for filming on city and county-owned property. Texas' Regional Film Commissions are also a great local resource. Each film commission can assist with everything from city permitting to finding locations and facilitating other production needs.

Studios

Texas is a well-resourced state from a film and TV production perspective. Leading studios include Austin Studios, a 20-acre film production facility including five stages, ample power, silent air conditioning and digital infrastructure throughout the lot. In March 2013, Austin Studios added 75,000 square feet of production and office space. Currently it offers areas for set construction, wardrobe, storage and has a number of on-site vendors. Productions to have been based there include Parkland (2013), True Grit (2010), Predators (2010) and TV series The Lying Game.

The Texas production industry has always been in-step with the latest technologies and techniques. The State is home to multiple postproduction, visual effects and animation companies, all with full production capabilities. All of the non-3D post-production and visual effects for the Spy Kids film franchise were done in-house at Austin-based Troublemaker Studios. Texas has also played a major role in the computer and video game industry and continues to be a hub for production. Texas has the second largest concentration of game firms in the US.

Post Production

Based primarily in Houston, Dallas and Austin, there are numerous post-production facilities, studios, talent agencies and equipment rental firms (cameras, lighting, grips etc). A leading player is MP&E Equipment Rental, which started life in Dallas but now has outposts in Phoenix, Denver and Austin. Its inventory includes camera, grip, lighting, generators etc (suitable for simple productions or high-end commercial and features). Another Dallas firm with a broad equipment offering is The Electric Light and Power Company.

Houston, meanwhile, is home to Texcam which has been providing state-of-the-art production equipment for 26 years. Texcam recently announced the opening of a 1500 sq ft insert stage/photo studio and a further 1,500 sq ft of furnished production offices. Centrally located, the stage is designed for product shots, still shoots, casting, interviews, talking heads and green or blue screen work.

Locations

The Texas Film Commission can advise on locations and is supported in this work by regional film commissions in places including Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and Rio Grande (there are 12 regional offices altogether). In terms of the kind of locations on offer, Texas is a huge state so is able to offer great diversity. There are modern cityscapes, industrial plants (oil etc), farms, ranches, rivers, deserts, canyons, woodland, desolate roads, airports, bridges and Mexican-style locations. There’s also more than 350 miles of coastline to choose from.

Interestingly there is also a wide array of permanent sets which are explained in some detail on the TFC’s website. These include Western-style sets, decommissioned battleships (eg the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi Bay), mission-style churches and motels. El Paso Film Commission also cites a Middle Eastern town among its available locations.

The climate is good for most of the year, which means crop shooting is a plus point for Texas. The primary crops of Texas are cotton, corn, feed grains, rice and wheat, but other forms of crop that are grown there include peanuts, sunflowers and sugarcane. There are also hundreds of orchards and vineyards.

Equipment

Based primarily in Houston, Dallas and Austin, there are numerous post-production facilities, studios, talent agencies and equipment rental firms (cameras, lighting, grips etc). A leading player is MP&E Equipment Rental, which started life in Dallas but now has outposts in Phoenix, Denver and Austin. Its inventory includes camera, grip, lighting, generators etc (suitable for simple productions or high-end commercial and features). Another Dallas firm with a broad equipment offering is The Electric Light and Power Company.

Houston, meanwhile, is home to Texcam which has been providing state-of-the-art production equipment for 26 years. Texcam recently announced the opening of a 1500 sq ft insert stage/photo studio and a further 1,500 sq ft of furnished production offices. Centrally located, the stage is designed for product shots, still shoots, casting, interviews, talking heads and green or blue screen work.