When the Legislature and Governor ended the Alaska Film Tax Credit program this summer everyone figured it would cause some stress in the film community, but who could have guessed it would devolve into telenovela drama so badly one company would feel the need to lawyer up to protect their reputation.
This summer, news that the State of Alaska would be ending the film subsidies rippled through the small but growing film community. The major production “Hunter Killer” announced it was moving to Louisana and local companies like NANA’s Piksik venture announced they were closing down.
The industry is largely dying on the vine without the massive capital infusion the film subsidies provided. It isn’t killing off everyone, however; SprocketHeads, a major player in providing services to “Big Miracle” and “The Frozen Ground”, has taken a big hit and admittedly has had to reconfigure their business model, but they are still around. And they are willing to fight to make sure everyone knows it.
You can imagine how they felt then when Randy Daly, the president of the Alaska FIlm Group, the industry’s trade association, included SprocketHeads in a letter to state legislators as examples of local companies run out of business by the lack of government subsidies. His email to legislators stated:
“I learned today that the economy lost another film industry business. NANA corporation has pulled the plug on its production house PIKSIK. This makes the third production house to shut down joining Evergreen Studios and Sprocket heads.”
SprocketHeads was not amused. Several sources confirmed to me that SprocketHeads had several intermediaries contact Mr. Daly to request he stop including them in the film industry body count, only to have him stand by and repeat the claim.
Finally, they lawyered up.
Jason Skala, the attorney for SprocketHeads shot off a nasty letter to Mr. Daly stating:
“Please be advised that your statements are knowingly false and are either int entionally or recklessly in disregard of the harm to the reputation, viability and prospective economic advantage of SprocketHeads as a film production business here in Alaska. This letter is intended to confirm in writing that you have been asked to: I) stop any and all false representations concerning my client; and 2) without delay send a written retraction of these false statements to each and every recipient, including but not limited to the members of the Alaska State Legislature and the AFG board members.”
He also demanded Mr. Daly:
“confirm to this office in writing that you will comply with this request and copy me on the retraction of the statements in a complete list of each and every person to whom you sent it.”
Wow, all that over a letter to legislators? Well it apparently worked. On Sept 11th Mr. Daly sent an email to legislators saying:
“In my recent correspondence to lawmakers on September 3, 2015, I erroneously stated that SprocketHeads, the Anchorage-based film production company, had gone out of business. That statement is incorrect. While other companies have discontinued film production services SprocketHeads is still open for business. I apologize for any inconvenience this statement has caused.”
So there you go, the first time in history someone involving lawyers and legislators in a beef actually ended in it being successfully resolved. So much drama….