Feds Spent $1.2B in Taxpayer Money on Films Over 14 Years

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Beyond the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the federal government has long dipped its toe in the film industry.

While the film and video market around the world reached a value of almost $235 billion in 2020, $1.2 billion in taxpayer money was spent on video production and distribution and other related filming categories between 2008 and 2021, according to our auditors at OpenTheBooks, who looked at federal spending records from that time.


The Department of Defense was responsible for the majority of it, shelling out $721 million, more than the next eight agencies combined. NASA spent $124 million, and the Department of the Interior spent $75 million, respectively.

For example, Old Post Films, Inc. collected $16 million for “Starting Strong Season II,” part two of an infomercial series to encourage young Americans to join the Army.

Old Post Films did business through Ricky Schroder Productions, a company run by actor Ricky Schroder.

Reviewing federal contracts, that company billed taxpayers $756.17 per hour for senior executive producers for the series (annualized rate of $1.4 million), while junior executive producers made $347.46 hourly (annualized rate of $700,000).

Consultants on the series made $191.44 per hour (annualized rate of $382,000), while set medic/safety coordinators earned $78.83 hourly.

Makeup artists/hair stylists got $47.34 per hour (annualized rate of $94,000); craft services staff, which provided food and beverages, were paid $32.92 hourly, while drivers were paid $29.61 and a production secretary was paid $29.45 per hour.

Perhaps that $1.2 billion in taxpayer funds that was spent would be significant lower had the film industry not charged exorbitant rates in government contracts.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.

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