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IRS Spent $60,000 Producing Star Trek Parody 280

Posted by timothy
from the but-they're-stimulating-the-economy dept.
An anonymous reader writes According to the AP, the IRS is being "scolded for spending $60,000 dollars on an elaborate parody video that played at a 2010 conference. 'The video features an elaborate set depicting the control room, or bridge, of the spaceship featured in the hit TV show. IRS workers portray the characters, including one who plays Mr. Spock, complete with fake hair and pointed ears. The production value is high even though the acting is what one might expect from a bunch of tax collectors. In the video, the spaceship is approaching the planet 'Notax,' where alien identity theft appears to be a problem.' You can find the hilarious and/or nausea-inducing video on YouTube."
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IRS Spent $60,000 Producing Star Trek Parody

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  • Our Tax Dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubwvj (1045960) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @02:37PM (#43258681)

    Well, this is better than some of the things our government spends our tax dollars on...

  • Wrong... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday March 23, 2013 @02:41PM (#43258725) Homepage

    They spent all that money, and they still couldn't get the right uniforms.

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      And no skirts on Uhura and Yeoman!

    • Re:Wrong... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Deep Esophagus (686515) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @03:28PM (#43259065)
      I lost it at "I've already spent my per diem for the day". An accounting wonk who doesn't know what "per diem" means? Guy needs a new job.
    • The I.T. crowd star trek parody [youtube.com] got the uniforms right...
  • IRS Spent $60,000 Producing Star Trek Parody

    Analysis shows it's best value for their (our) money they've gotten in years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 23, 2013 @02:49PM (#43258781)

    The IRS decided to produce videos in house instead of spending more money to hire outside contractors. Before they could start producing actual videos for use in training, public information, etc., they had to get up to speed with using their new video production facility. They had to make some dummy video during that checkout/internal training phase, so they chose to make parodies of Star Trek and Gilligan's Island. Big deal.

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @03:21PM (#43259025)

      Additionally as regards this: "The video features an elaborate set depicting the control room, or bridge, of the spaceship featured in the hit TV show."

      Except it's pretty obviously green screen.

      • by Nimey (114278) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @05:54PM (#43259853) Homepage Journal

        The low-information voters in the Republican base don't care about the truth, they want to reinforce their faith that the government is wasteful and can do no right.

      • by niko9 (315647)

        Additionally as regards this: "The video features an elaborate set depicting the control room, or bridge, of the spaceship featured in the hit TV show."

        Except it's pretty obviously green screen.

        So they're making a big deal of cosmetic differences that have no actual impact? Kinda like "assualt rifles" then, eh?

    • Implying there are "natural" controversies in politics these days?
    • by Jiro (131519) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @06:35PM (#43260113)

      According to TFA, 1) Congress complained about the video and 2) the IRS admitted it was a mistake to make the video. If they just needed to produce a dummy video, and the Star Trek theme involved spending no money over what they would have spent anyway, why would they then announce that "There is no mistaking that this video did not reflect the best stewardship of resources"?

      (Moreover, according to TFA, Congress did determine that the Gilligan's Island one was legitimate, so it's not as if they were doing a witchhunt and would refuse to accept any video with a TV show theme. If this video too was legitimate the IRS should have had no problems explaining it away. Obviously they couldn't.)

      Looks like the Republicans are right, after all.

  • First, like many have stated, this video could be done for ~ around $1,000 USD for the same production quality and add an additional $200 USD could have been better.... but what caught my mind is how they uploaded it upscaled at quality that would look crappy even on a 2" screen.

    • Haven't RTFA, but I'm willing to bet wages comprise the bulk of that $60K. How much do they spend in wages for people to read slashdot, facebook, etc? Who among us does not read the internet at work? How many of us have been to a lame corporate party where a bunch of low ranking executives dress up and make a video for your "entertainment"?
    • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @07:18PM (#43260315)

      $1,000? Let's say you pay minimum wage to the actors for a day of shooting.

      5 actors * 10 hours * $8 = $400
      Camera rental = $200 (Minimum)
      Light rental = $100 (Minimum)
      Greenscreen 20' = $100

      Whoops we've used up your $1,000 budget and we still don't have:
      An editor ($150 minimum)
      No sound (Add another $100)
      No poorly done 3D animation (Another $100)
      You didn't pay a camera operator to setup and point your camera (Another $150 minimum)

      Now you need to include the time for someone to "write" it. Probably would take a day. Another $150 minimum even if your employee was working for minimum wage.

      Are you going to shoot in a room at the IRS? You have to account for your Janitor then clearing the room of furniture. Let's say $50 for 2 hours work. Still cheaper by a factor of 10 or more than renting a stage.

      Oh yeah, the actors have to wear something. Add $60 per actor * 7 actors = $420
      ________
      $2,120.

      Also that $30k per video number is meaningless since it includes setting up a whole new in-house studio, stage space, purchasing lights, buying computers etc. If they produced 30 videos (1 per week) for the rest of the year, every video next year would be saving tax payers money.

  • by houbou (1097327) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @03:02PM (#43258893) Journal
    it's for training.. and training is big bucks. bottom line, does it teach anything? and would an effective alternative have been cheaper?
    • by anagama (611277)

      I watched it. All I learned is that there would anarchy without the IRS. They of course failed to mention that for every dollar spent on doing something useful for the country, three or four get spent on cronies or war.

  • by macbeth66 (204889) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @03:06PM (#43258925)

    had a good screen presence. With a little training, he might be as good as William Shatner.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      "With a little training, he might be as bad as William Shatner.|

      There, fixed that for ya!

  • Good PR (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday March 23, 2013 @03:07PM (#43258937) Homepage Journal

    Look at the Star Trek cosplay, not the firearms we're stocking up [fbo.gov] on!

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) intends to purchase sixty Remington Model 870 Police RAMAC #24587 12 gauge pump-action shotguns for the Criminal Investigation Division. The Remington parkerized shotguns, with fourteen inch barrel, modified choke, Wilson Combat Ghost Ring rear sight and XS4 Contour Bead front sight, Knoxx Reduced Recoil Adjustable Stock, and Speedfeed ribbed black forend, are designated as the only shotguns authorized for IRS duty based on compatibility with IRS existing shotgun inventory, certified armorer and combat training and protocol, maintenance, and parts.

    (not that it's much compared to the DHS)

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      Nice choice. Those should make quite an impression.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      designated as the only shotguns authorized for IRS duty based on compatibility with IRS existing shotgun inventory

      I'm not sure what's more interesting; that the IRS has an existing shotgun inventory, or that these are merely the only authorized shotguns in their arsenal. Either way, if they really want teeth, they should go into lobbying congress.

  • The captain is Black, the comm officer is Caucasian... but she's... still... Uhura??? I'm mostly finding this funny. Like WTF is the Enterprise? Is that some kind of book that IRS people would recognize?

    There is a chance, however remote, that if we tweet this link enough the IRS will get enough views on YouTube the recoup costs and make a profit to help pay on the order 1*10e-10 percent of the debt. I'll get on it right away captain...

    • And it's still more faithful to Star Trek than that J.J. Abrams abomination.

      • And it's still more faithful to Star Trek than that J.J. Abrams abomination.

        You're entitled to your opinion. Personally I preferred the J.J. Abrams version over all of the STTNG movies and series. In STTNG they adhered to the Prime Directive like it was a religion and relied on diplomacy and technology to solve all problems. At least with the J. J. Abrams version, we have a crew that knows that sometimes you need to break the rules, more like the original Star Trek series.

  • They FAA is shutting down 149 control towers [soopermexican.com], supposedly as part of saving $637 million due to the sequester, at the same time Obama is asking for $500 million for the corrupt oligarchy running the Palestinian Authority.

    But they still seem to be able to fund the TSA's security theater. But you know who won't have to go through the grope lines? People from Saudi Arabia. [judicialwatch.org] You know, the country that produced produced 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers.

    And of course, there are the billions in green crony subsidies [cronychronicles.org].

    Your

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      The funny thing is, if they wont miss those towers during the sequestration then why do they need them at all?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by im_thatoneguy (819432)

      I'm a Global Entry member. If you and your idiotic right wing mouth foamers bothered spending 2 seconds actually reading what Global Entry is--you would realize it doesn't let you bypass any security. The only thing you get as a Global Entry member is that you don't have to talk to customs and you can use a kiosk instead of talking to a customs agent.

  • If even one of the production crew had been a real Trekkie with half a clue, they could have contacted James Cawley and the Phase II/New Voyages crew and rented their elaborate sets and maybe even their assistance for a fraction of what it cost them... AND it would've had dramatically better production values.

  • by retroworks (652802) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @03:18PM (#43259013) Homepage Journal

    The cost of the video is so high because they haven't achieved a scale of production. We need them to produce entire series of Star Trek, then IRS Voyager, Next Generation Income Tax... then Star Wars, Mission Impossible, etc If enough auditors spend enough time producing enough of these videos, the cost per video will go down, which means the "rate of increase" of IRS spending on videos could go down.

    At least until the auditing period for the 1040 I'm working on today is expired. Then pull the plug.

  • It was funny !!!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dgharmon (2564621)
    It was funny !!!!
  • Wonder when they'll receive the DMCA take down notice? I know they called it "parody" but I don't think they where trying to be funny. Plus, I've seen better parody videos fall victim to dmca. Either way, I hate what this video implies, our tax code needs updated and the IRS needs to go away.
    • by amiga3D (567632)

      I doubt the MPAA's lawyers ever want to even let the IRS know they exist, much less bring that kind of notice on themselves. I can see a bunch of IRS agents going through their books with a fine tooth comb. Actually I'd love to see it.

  • Since the production value of that parody equals that of a silly cat video, it would be more convincing if majority of that money was spent on Viacom copyright license. Instead of risking violation of copyright law by invoking "Fair Use", legal cost alone may have made it worth $60K.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 23, 2013 @03:30PM (#43259079)

    The US govt budget in 2012 is, roughly, 3.5 trillion dollars
    That is 3.5 e12
    And congress upset about 6e4 ???

    simple math: assume there are 200 working days per year.
    IF congress investigated the ever popular waste fraud and abuse every single day, how much would they have to save each day, to equal 1% of the budget ?

    well, the answer is
    step one 3.5e12/100 = 3.5e10
    step two 3.5e10/200 = 1.75e8

    That is, if congress found *one hundred and seventy five million dollars of waste, EVRY SINGLE DAY, it would be 1% of the us budget.

    tell me again why we are even thinking about 60K ???????

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Don't pay attention to that. Pay attention to the practice productions of their new in house training video program that will hopefully end up saving money instead of contracting it out.

  • There was also a Gilligan's Island video which so far the IRS has kept private. [thehill.com]

  • by BStorm (107974)

    that was taxing to watch.\]

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @03:59PM (#43259225)
    The IRS employees almost 100,000 people. That works out to about .65 cents per employee. Not very much for a training budget. Nice troll from the subby though.
  • by guttentag (313541) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @04:47PM (#43259479) Journal
    This $215 video production cost $60,000 because the guy playing Spock forgot to itemize his deductive reasoning.

    The video is a public service reminder to itemize your deductions or get stuck paying the bill for stuff like this.
  • They did paperwork for $60 000 of expenses.

    No chance that that was what they spent.

    Tax people are familiar with the difference.

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