Meeting With Indies, Generating New Ideas

On December 8th, I was invited to the AZ TABLE meeting chaired by Jon Bonnell. This is a meeting of indie filmmakers whose primary purpose is to help each other advance their careers and passions by leveraging the broad range of talents of the participating individuals. Jon accommodated my request to speak with the group about the AFMC and to explain my role on the AFMC board.

The reception was quite positive. Questions and comments proceeded to flow even before I was finished with my explanation. First off, and as is usually the case, most of the group either had never heard of the AFMC or were not aware that it was once again active in the industry — which is to say that any recent activity has apparently gone unnoticed. My hope is that this ongoing blog series should help alleviate that deficiency.

In exploring issues particular to unrepresented independents (including but not exclusively indie filmmakers), it was pointed out to me that areas such as video games, music production and the emerging market of virtual reality were not represented. I could not comment informatively at the time, but I intend to review the latest iteration of the multimedia tax incentive bill (i.e. the most recent bill that did not make it through the Legislature) either to verify that these areas are covered by the previous wording, or to take note to add wording to the next bill to ensure their inclusion. Since the subject came up at the AZ TABLE meeting, I’ll report back to them directly, as well as make mention of my findings in a future blog.

In discussing the initiatives within other States, we talked about the differences in demographics and political climates that contributed to the incentives variations from locality to locality. Still, there are many similarities that may allow us to learn some best practices from other States. For instance, it was pointed out the the State of Louisiana buys booth space at major film festivals for the specific purpose of promoting that State for film production. My “take-away” is to find out what we’re doing to promote ourselves in a similar way outside of Arizona.

We also talked about a past industry events that took place at the State Capital to bring awareness to the legislators. A very good point was raised that many of the participants approached it with a poor understanding of the purpose of the event. For instance, giving a headshot to a legislator is not a good use of an actor’s time. Rather he or she would make an excellent ambassador for the cause, being both engaging and eloquent as is an actor’s strength. But to do this, we need to do a better job in communicating the event’s objectives to actors and to all participants. We need to stay on message and not get caught up in the festivities of such events while losing sight of our purpose for being there. To this end, I will make a point of insisting on a higher level of communication within the community prior to future events, and even orientation sessions for those who feel they need additional reinforcement.

A few of the AZ TABLE meeting participants spoke of individuals that they knew, both within the industry and within the legal system, who might be interested in champion our cause, or at least spend some time with us to confer on some of our issues and share their thoughts, ideas and experiences. I look forward to having these conversations in the coming months.

My thanks to Jon Bonnell for allowing me the time to speak at the AZ TABLE meeting. My thanks also to Carlo DallOlmo for allowing me time to speak the following week at the Phoenix Screenwriters Association “In the Works: Actors Reading Writers” meeting. I look forward to speaking with a great many more of you as we enter a new year with new hopes and, hopefully, new opportunities to do what we love to do.

That’s all for now!

joesblogsig

 

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Let’s Hit The Ground Running!

[This board member blog is by Joe Gruberman, representing the interests of independent filmmakers on the Arizona Film & Media Coalition (AFMC). Any viewpoints expressed in this blog are expressed by the blogger as an individual and may or may not be the viewpoints of the AFMC Board as a whole.]
 

My summarized notes on the most recent board meeting

Our most recent AFMC Board of Directors meeting was on Thursday, November 19th. This was my first day back on the board after an approximately 18-month absence, for reasons that I’ll clarify shortly. We had a sufficient number of members in attendance for a quorum and were able to discuss, vote on and implement strategies that will enable us to approach the coming year with some fresh perspective on our overarching concern of how to revitalize the film and media industry of Arizona. Our discussion touched on the subjects of legislative session schedule, current political climate and its positive and negative implications, recent letters to the governor, efficacy of potential strategies going forward, “low-hanging fruit”, and fundraising.

As I had been out of the mix for over a year, I took it upon myself to be vocal on several subjects that were discussed, including our strategy regarding new and existing legislation affecting our industry and the need for greater social media presence. I could go into details here, but I feel that the purpose of a personal blog is not to recount the meeting minutes, but to express the thoughts of the individual board member as a communication vehicle to his or her represented community. (In fact, the very creation of this blog is my attempt to encourage other board members to do the same.)

Why I left and then rejoined the AFMC Board

The AFMC Board of Directors is composed of individuals representing many different entities across the film, multimedia and broadcast communities. One of those entities was IFP/Phoenix, which is a sister organization of the Phoenix Film Festival. Both are under the parent organization Phoenix Film Foundation. Both of these entities held seats on the AFMC until about July 2014. At that time, the Phoenix Film Foundation’s Board of Directors deemed it in the best interests of the foundation to drop off of the AFMC Board based on potential conflicts between the AFMC legislative activities and the Phoenix Film Foundation’s 501c3 standings. The details of this decision are beyond the scope of this blog. Suffice to say that, as the representative of IFP/Phoenix, I could no longer participate.

Subsequent to that decision, I was invited back onto the Board in an individual capacity, but I declined that request because (a) there really was no allowance for an individual, not representing any particular group to be on the Board, and (b) I did not feel that, other than the members of IFP/Phoenix, I had any sort of constituency that I could or should be representing. However, after much cajoling by some dear friends on the Board, and after leaving ample time for someone else to step up in my place, it seemed to me that, as a filmmaker, an educator, and an experienced corporate director, I might make a case for myself (– actually, to myself –) that the independent film community at large might accept me as their representative, if I were to make an honest effort to engage the members of that community in the conversation. On that basis, I decided to re-join, and so that’s where we stand today. In the coming weeks, I will be formulating a plan to (a) communicate on an ongoing basis with as many individuals and groups of the independent film community as I can, and (b) open a channel of communication back to me if anyone needs to initiate a conversation. For now, I’m best reached at joe@jgrub.com.

That’s all for now! Please show your support by liking the AFMC Facebook page. While you’re there, feel free to post some constructive comments that might help give me direction in the coming months.

Sincerely,
Joe

AZ Film & Media Coalition

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Film, TV production workers call for return of state film office

Members of Arizona’s film and television community are joining forces with Arizona businesses that benefit from movies, TV shows and commercials in an effort to bring back the Arizona State Film Office.

Fall signals the start of the production season, and the goal of the Arizona Production Association, (APA) and the Arizona Film & Media Coalition (AFMC) is to send 4,000 letters this month to Gov. Doug Ducey, asking him to make the decision to bring back the Arizona Film Office by executive order.

According to a 2014 Arizona State University “State of the Celluloid” thesis, Arizona had a dedicated Motion Picture Development Program (MPDP) by 1940, but the bulk of the MPDP’s activity started in the 1960s during the governorship of Jack Williams. It remained for the next several decades, helping bring millions of dollars of work and related economic benefits to Arizona.

While on location, film, TV and commercial productions spend the vast majority of their location budgets with local companies, local locations and local hires,” says Arizona Film & Media Coalition (AFMC) President Mike Kucharo, a long-time Arizona film producer and director.

Arizona has more than 100 years of history in the film and television industry and some 1,600 feature films and numerous television shows, commercials and photo magazines have been produced in the Grand Canyon State. Those productions have provided countless jobs for many Arizonans, which have benefited the State of Arizona economically, culturally, financially and socially.

But the film office was closed in 2009 during the economic downturn, and the state has had no representation since.

When industry executives call, ready to spend money in Arizona, no one answers the phone,” explains Randy Murray, owner of Randy Murray Productions and a past president of the APA. “As far as they can tell, Arizona is closed for business!”

The Arizona Film Office would serve within the governor’s office and lead the marketing of Arizona to film and related industries. Film office personnel would facilitate production in the state by granting location permits, helping to secure locations and cutting through red tape for production companies.

The film office staff would serve as liaisons between the private and many public sector entities such as state parks, highways, cities and counties without film offices to protect the state’s assets. This incorporates coordinating, monitoring and tracking economic impacts of the film industry to the state, which includes hotel room nights, vehicle rentals, food from restaurants and grocery stores, plus job days, production days and other direct spending. State film office personnel would also advise the governor on film and communication issues.

Other benefits of having an Arizona Film Office include:

  • Films, television, photo shoots and commercials are some of the very best ways to promote and market Arizona to the world. A successful film or TV series has proven to promote tourism and can even create new tourist attractions.
  • The production industry wants to spend money in Arizona. Arizona’s proximity to Los Angeles and the vast diversity in the state’s locations, quality crews and talent makes Arizona a highly desirable place to film.
  • Bringing back the Film Office is “pro-business.” More production means more small businesses will prosper and there will be more high-wage jobs.
  • The film and TV production industry brings millions of dollars to the state coffers. While on location, film, TV and commercial productions spend the vast majority of their location budgets by hiring local production personnel and purchasing from local businesses.
  • The Film Office is good for the whole state. The film industry is an economic engine that impacts urban and rural communities all over the state as well as many non-film related industries, such as tourism, construction and retail.
  • The film industry is recession proof. Even in a down economy, film, TV and commercial production continues.
  • Arizona should be open for business. Without a state film office, studios and production companies overlook Arizona and spend their money in other states.
  • A number of Arizona universities and community colleges have world-class film schools. More production work in Arizona means our students would have access to internships, jobs and vital connections to industry professionals. Our best and brightest may not have to leave the state to pursue careers.

Elected officers in APA and AFMC will follow-up with Gov. Ducey’s staff to help facilitate the reinstatement of the Arizona Film Office.

For more information, visit AFMC at www.azfilmandmedia.org
or APA at www.AZProduction.com or call APA at 480-345-6464

 

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Find your Representatives

Here is a link to find your representatives in the House and Senate: http://azredistricting.org/districtlocator/

Districts shifted and and there was an election since last year’s session, so yours may have changed.

Please look up this information now so when the bill goes for a full vote, you’ll know who you need to write and call to ask for support.

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MPAA commissions study on State Tax Incentives – Backstage Article

Study Shows Benefits of State Tax Incentives for Film Productions
By Daniel Lehman
According to the results of an MPAA-commissioned study that was released by accounting firm Ernst & Young today, state tax incentive programs that encourage film production are beneficial to both state and local economies.

Thirty-seven states currently offer tax credits to attract productions and create a sustainable film industry. These incentive programs tends to suffer when state budgets are cut, but the Ernst & Young study outlines the ways that film production boosts these economies in the long run and shows that the benefits of these tax incentives can greatly outweigh the costs.
“The primary benefits of film credits to state residents are increased employment and higher incomes generated by film production activities,” Robert Cline, Ernst & Young LLP’s National Director of State and Local Tax Policy Economics, said in a statement. “However, the economic benefits to residents extend beyond the production activities themselves and include increased activity by suppliers to the film industry and increased consumer spending from higher incomes.”
The short-term goal of state tax incentives is to attract new productions to the state. Hundreds of local jobs may be created as a result, including new opportunities for local actors. Studios have flocked to states like Louisiana, Illinois, Florida, and Georgia in recent years, which means more work for actors who live outside the entertainment hubs of New York and Hollywood.
But governments and local businesses can also see economic benefits from statewide activity related to these industries, such as increased tourism, development of film industry infrastructure such as studios and service providers, and other industries beyond the production itself.
According to the results, “In studies that examine the full range of economic benefits from film credits, the impacts from tourism and capital investments can be more significant than the impact of the film production activity. Significant increases in state tourism can be tied to film productions. In some cases, widely viewed films increased tourism to featured locations by more than 25 percent.”
The study offers a guideline for state governments to use in future analysis, rather than a detailed breakdown of actual revenue generated by film productions. But it does include impressive estimates of the potential for increased business and tax revenue in these regions. For example, the total economic impact of a $10 million production, according to an Ernst & Young case study, could generate up to $23 million in economic output, $5.7 million in income, and 159 resident jobs. At the same time, this level of activity would be expected to generate more than $750,000 in state and local taxes.
“The main focus of the evaluations of film credits to date has been whether or not the credits ‘pay for themselves ‘ through higher state and local tax collections,” Cline said. “But the more important issue for policy makers to focus on as they evaluate state film credits is the effectiveness of film credits compared to other state economic development programs in terms of jobs and economic development.”
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Producer/Director Bryan Singer Supports AFMC

From Don Livesay, Arizona/Utah Executive Director / Screen Actors Guild:

I recently met Bryan Singer at the Chandler Center for the Arts where he was speaking in support of the new Holocaust & Tolerance Museum being built in Arizona. I told him about our need to renew our state filmmaking incentives, and he graciously agreed to provide AFMC with the following quote for use in our outreaching efforts to legislators.

“Many things go into my decision to shoot in any location, most important being the financial advantages one state might have over another. I need to be able to hire local professionals and tap into local resources without causing disruption to my budget. What a state offers me just might determine if I shoot there or not.”

…Bryan Singer has directed and/or produced such films as X-Men, X2, Superman Returns, The Amazing Story of Superman, Valkyrie, The Usual Suspects and Jack the Giant Killer, to name a few. He is a producer of the TV series House, and directed and produced the pilot for the series Football Wives. Singer is an established producer and director of quality projects that have employed hundreds of local industry professionals throughout the country.

-Don

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