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!

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[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.]

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