Half the battle is won.
Through persistence and necessity, through compromise and trust, through the acquisition and allocation of generous seed funding, the Arizona Office of Film & Media has become a reality! Heading this, our new and improved state film office, is Matthew Earl Jones, a gentleman whom I’ve known for over a decade, and who has spent many years both in Arizona and in Hollywood, working in an industry that has one foot firmly planted in past traditions, and the other knee-deep in the swirling vortex that is the future of film and media production. And we can be part of that future!
I speak of “half the battle”, in that the creation of a state film office was one of the two main objectives of the Arizona Film & Media Coalition (AFMC) in its quest to resurrect Arizona’s film industry. The second main objective, of course, is to find creative ways to incentivize larger-budget productions to bring their shows here, to Arizona, rather than the several dozen other locations in North American that are farther away, but that have attractive, but ever-changing, cost-reducing incentive programs.
While the Arizona Office of Film & Media represents a major milestone in our collective efforts — I’m looking at all of you good folks who have consistently rallied for the cause — I consider it the low-hanging fruit from a very tall tree. Let me explain:
“Low-hanging fruit” generally refers to those benefits that are most easily accessible and attainable. They may not be the biggest or the best or the sweetest of the fruit…but, heck, they’re so easy to get to, why not pick them as well? Our low-hanging fruit was the film office — at least, it was as soon as certain interested parties step forward to help fund it. (Ref: Studio 48 Press Release 12.1.2016) But this was low-hanging fruit from a very tall tree because even the most accessible fruit was way high up and out of reach. Here is a situation where even the most reachable goals have remained out of reach…until now!
So where do we stand with the tastier prizes higher up? Here’s where we get into not just the tree, but the whole forest. Governor Ducey has declared Arizona “open for business”. In so doing, he has opened the door to dozens of industries (if not hundreds) to plead their cases as to why their industry should take precedent over others. They know that the Governor is most interested in initiatives that will get the most rapid and positive results, reap large benefits for the State, and create jobs without raising taxes. Industry leaders and their lobbyists are courting the State for favorable legislation and the enthusiastic support of the Governor. In short, everybody wants to be the low-hanging fruit in a forest full of very tall trees.
The Arizona Office of Film & Media represents a slow climb up a tall tree. But it’s a foothold we did not have before. We need not start from the bottom anymore. From this vantage point, there are many branches an arm’s length away, all with succulent fruit for Arizona to pick. Higher employment, increased tourism, benefits to hotels, car rental companies and restaurants, sales tax revenue on dollars spent in-state — all within reach from our perch on the lowest branches of our tree. We continue to climb, as an industry and as a community. As the benefits start to outweigh the costs, the climb will become easier. The branches will become fuller. Our job…is to look up, never down. And keep climbing!
See you in the movies!
[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.]