Lights, camera ... funding?
The "Snowbate" tax-rebate program that once lured moviemakers to Minnesota has gone from the cutting edge to the bottom of the barrel. Films that could have been shot here -- such as George Clooney's "Leatherheads," set in Duluth but made in the Carolinas -- are going elsewhere. And so are Minnesota film professionals.
Anne Healy, a St. Paul-based location scout, hasn't worked on a Minnesota shoot in three years. Her most recent job? Finding spots in Wisconsin for "Public Enemies," a $100 million film starring Johnny Depp as gangster John Dillinger. The film chose Wisconsin after the state enacted a 25 percent tax rebate on production spending, compared with Minnesota's 15 percent.
"I was driving them around in the van and I felt awful," she said. "All I wanted to do was drive them to Red Wing."
Healy is the point person for Project Johnny Depp, a coalition of film professionals, hotel owners, restaurateurs and others who are pressing state officials for more competitive incentives and a larger appropriation. At $1.3 million available over two years, Minnesota's fund is the nation's third-smallest.
"This is the first year where I've thought, 'What would Madison be like; could I live there? Do I want to move?' " Healy said.
The state film board is asking the Legislature for an added $2.6 million. It has the support of Senate Finance Chair Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, who says no one has voiced opposition.
- Colin Covert
Electric Arc ends, long live Electric Arc
The stress of turning a stage show into a radio show was just too much for the members of Electric Arc Radio. At their March 15 performance, the collective announced that this Saturday's season finale would be their "final" show, but they would emerge again in the fall in one form or another.
"We just tried to press Electric Arc into a real radio format," said Geoff Herbach, one of the writers and performers. "It's much better as a stage show without having the boundaries of radio. We burned out trying to press it into something it wasn't." Four episodes of the show aired on 89.3 The Current in January.
The collective will still work together, not necessarily as Electric Arc or writing about Electric Arc characters. "We're going to make three sort of long, I want to call them pornographic musicals, but that's going a little bit overboard," Herbach said.
In the meantime, you can catch up on old shows online, or get a ticket for Saturday's end of the Arc as we know it. (7 p.m. Sat., Women's Club Theatre, 410 Oak Grove St., Mpls., $12, www.electricarcradio.com.)
- Stephanie Dickrell
The boys of Burlesque
The guys behind Minneapolis poster-art crew Burlesque of North America are running on all cylinders this month. After selling tons of posters at South by Southwest, they're back and ready to unveil another monthly exhibit at their gallery, First Amendment Arts. For the first time, they're going to feature themselves. Over the past few years, they've created posters for such bands as Arcade Fire, the Melvins and Atmosphere. Saturday's opening-night event, titled "Surprise Party," will include a surprise performance by "one of the Twin Cities' finest rock groups," says artist and DJ Mike the 2600 King, who will also perform.
- Tom Horgen
The local band Vampire Hands and the mega-buzzing New York quartet Vampire Weekend weren't exactly competing for the same level of notoriety when they both performed at the South by Southwest Music Conference two weeks ago, but the similar names did cause at least a little confusion. No worries, says Chris Baio, bassist of the Vampire band that also performed on "Saturday Night Live" this month (maybe the other one can do it next month). "I'd actually heard of them before [SXSW]," he said. "I think there's enough room for multiple Vampire bands. We don't want to be the only one carrying the Vampire name. I think they should keep the name. They have my blessing, at least." The Hands play Big V's in St. Paul on Saturday, while the Weekend has a sold-out show at the Triple Rock April 3.
- Chris Riemenschneider
The North Star Roller Girls are more than halfway through their 2007-08 season, their first at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Previously, North Star fans had to travel to Cheap Skate in Coon Rapids. The jury's out on whether the move has helped the league, but their derby counterpart, the Minnesota RollerGirls, who hold their bouts at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, seem to be getting more press attention. Perhaps now that the North Star Roller Girls are four bouts into the season, the confusion about there actually being two roller derby leagues in the Twin Cities will be straightened out. Do we see a collaboration in the future now that both are vying for fans in the Twin Cites metro area? Or will a rivalry emerge? Saturday's bout will feature Invasion Earth at halftime.
- Stephanie Dickrell