Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Filmmaking and Rich Relatives

Communities who want new revenues may want to reconsider filming as a fast injection of revenues while promoting tourism and long term economic value.

Filmmakers are better than rich relatives:
- they come to town for a short time
- they fix up the town and leave it better than they found it
- they spend lots of money
- then they go away and talk nice about you!

What a concept!

But surprisingly, many communities haven't figured out how to serve this effervescent marketplace well.  We often hear big sighs of relief from filmmakers large and small when they encounter communities who have taken the time to really align the working relationship from a filmmaker's perspective.

Communities are the store.  Filmmakers are customers.  Communities would do well to take a lesson from trends that match technology to "shopping patterns" of filmmakers and make it easy to work with the community.

Like rich relatives, the filmmakers and TV productions ARE going to talk about you.  It's the community leaders' choice if those stories are positive or negative.

Maybe a 2014 resolution is to reexamine the community's story before the "relatives" return!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Steak, Chicken or $2.5 million fine


Weddings can be complicated.  There's lots of issues, emotions run strong and there's plenty of opportunity to overlook something.  Steak or Chicken or Vegetarian. But some things really do need attention for any production.

Like getting authorization permits to built a movie like set for their wedding site.  On an environmentally sensitive area of Big Sur.


I'm married. I get it. We want our brides to be happy. Make it a special day.

But whether it's a wedding, other special event or movie production, overlooking something as simple as a permit can be expensive.  $2.5 million reminders in this case, though Sean Parker can likely afford it.  Probably have to cut back on bowling for a while but he is still solvent.

At, we can appreciate the impact of "unforced errors" in a big production.  The reasons range from lack of knowledge about what is needed to simply ignoring the rules and everything in between.  In Sean's case, it seems to be an honest case of accidental ommission and he took full responsibility and cooperated completely to resolve it.  Good for him!

But what would have happened, as it often does with film/TV production, when an official shows up and shuts down the production because the proper permits/authorization hasn't been obtained?  At delays of even $50,000 or $100,000 a day (and many times millions of dollars daily), film/TV/event productions can't afford the risk of missing a permit or other approval delaying production.

That's one reason we started - to help prevent avoidable permitting/approval mistakes, save money and make events run more smoothly.

Because on her wedding day, a bride shouldn't have any worries.
Not even steak, chicken or vegetarian meals for the reception and certainly not government permit approvals!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hooray for Gilbert!

Courtesy article

Gilbert, Arizona should be a local government's hero.  They've done something even large cities, counties and states have not been able to pull off.

Their elected officials and administration have rolled up their sleeves and formally adopted a philosophy of serving constituents better through automation.

And it works!

"Gilbert passed a council directive that encouraged the city to become a technology leader by finding creative and innovative ways to utilize technology for town operations."

"One such operation that needed attention was streamlined workflow management; it's something the town has struggled with, said system administrator Kirsten Larsen, adding that the town still heavily relied on paper-based forms.

“Everything we do we try to keep in mind of being a technology leader and being best in class, so for limited staff we decided we’d try to improve our basic business processes each day by automating them,” she said. “We wanted to eliminate paper, we wanted to reduce staff time and everyday processes by increased productivity.”

In some communities, that would be crazy talk! 

But for Gilbert, it's a clear path to excellence.  

Not only does this save money, but automation can extend economic development, tourism,  and other community benefits. Oh, and serving the citizens better, too.

To Gilbert, Arizona, a town of 220,000  - big kudos to you for doing a good job, keeping your mission in perspective and showing other communities how the right technology can be an asset.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Netflix to Invest Heavily in New, Original Productions

Netflix' decision to invest in new productions follows Amazon Studios' announcement to also invest in additional programming to serve the market. That's good news for economic development, film/TV production industries and state/local/municipalities who are eager to attract new filming. 

The filming pie just got bigger!

But there's a bigger lesson in this announcement for communities, governments, film commissioners, mayors, county commissioners, film liasons, tourism officials, chambers of commerce and others.  Including us.

Ted Sarandos (Netflix Chief Content Officer) nailed it.
"I believe there’s a bigger business in customer satisfaction than managing business satisfaction."

Instead of focusing on governmental internal processes, maybe the bigger reward is listening to external markets and providing what they want. When they want it. How they want it.

That includes enabling filming in communities, making it easier, faster, less complicated. For a wider range of media production creators, not just the traditional, big organizations who have the resources and patience to deal with inefficiencies, outdated policies and slow response to requests.

Example: One community just passed a film ordinance to help formalize their message to filmmakers.  Congratulations.  But it took 3 WEEKS to mail a copy of the new film ordinance to me after requesting it from them.  
It wasn't posted online as the minutes of the public meeting.It seems they only mail hard copy of requests of the public document and policy. 
No email, no online posting, no fax.  Snail mail. That's their "policy".
And they are proud of their innovation to attract new business like filming.  Wonder what message that sends to prospective filmmakers who need fast coordination and approvals for filming?
Maybe it's time we all re-examine our emphasis on managing "business satisfaction" and focus more on "customer satisfaction".

Perhaps Netflix and Amazon's success in developing a non-traditional media channel distribution market has something to it!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Value of TV Pilots to communities and economic development

The average TV pilot production employs about 150 people.

Production costs average about $2 million for comedy pilots; $5.5 million for drama pilots

Presentations, an alternative to full length pilots, cost about 40 percent less.

Not only is it important to make filming and production easy through tax incentives, its critical to have efficient interaction with local communities to acquire permits, approvals and logistics.

One time loss of a pilot production can lead to loss of a promising series.
AFCI (Association of Film Commissioners International) estimated TV production costs daily range from $135,000 to $350,000 a day.

Multi-camera, stage bound comedies cost up to $1.5 million per episode to produce!

Single camera comedies that shoot on location cost slightly more than $2 million per episode.

53 pilots were filmed outside L.A. in 2012

source: FilmLA 2012 Television Pilot Production Report

These numbers alone are enough to suggest that economic development, tourism, chamber of commerce and other community officials should ask yourselves: 

Are we doing everything we can to attract filming to our community?  
Are we really easy to work with?

If the answer is "I'm not sure we are doing all we could", then perhaps it makes sense to chat with us ( to learn the secrets other communities have discovered to helping attract film/TV and other media productions...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The best farm fresh products and pecans in Georgia!

Over the past few years, I've had the pleasure to meet some of the nicest Southern folks in my life.  The Gibbs family, in Abbeville, Georgia (central Georgia area) are hard working, generous people who happen to farm and generate some of the best vegetables, pecans and other items I've ever wrapped my lips around!

If you ever get a chance to visit them or want great produce (especially pecans in the fall), their contact info is below.  You won't regret it!

Gibbs Farm

Eric & Brooks Gibbs

HWY 215 ..Twin Pine Road

Abbeville, GA 31001

(229) 425-0668 or (229) 425-1455 or (229) 365-2289

Friday, April 12, 2013

Covington/Newton County launches new film centric tourism website

Covington/Newton County's Chamber of Commerce has just launched a new website with special emphasis on their long history of film and TV production.

Congratulations to them!

 For immediate release

Hunter Hall, President
Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce

Covington, Georgia – April 10, 2013: The Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce will premiere its new innovative website Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 5:00pm at Triple Horse Productions in Covington.  Covington and Newton County were identified by the State of Georgia in the first group of “Camera Ready Communities” in 2011, and remains the “go-to” community for location scouts in Georgia. More than 65 feature films and television productions have chosen Covington because of its picturesque setting and ease of production with leaders and residents in the community. will feature:
·         A dedicated portal for film scouts and producers to view filming sites
·         Production specific angles
·         Pinpoint map locations
·         360◦ panoramic views
·         Sun tracking data
·         Step-by-Step guide for location requests
·         Incentives and Tax Credit information
·         Crew Listing availability

Over the years, Covington has been better known in TV Land as Hazzard County in “The Dukes of Hazzard,” Sparta, Mississippi in “In the Heat of the Night,” and most recently as Mystic Falls, Virginia in “The Vampire Diaries.” The County Courthouse has been seen by millions in the opening credits of “In the Heat of the Night.”

Starting with A Man Called Peter in 1954, Covington has become the true “Hollywood of the SouthTM by playing host to more than 60 productions that have appeared on the silver screen. Some of Covington’s most famous big screen appearances include: My Cousin Vinny, Sweet Home Alabama, Cannonball Run, Remember the Titans, Madea’s Family Reunion, Footloose (2010), and Flight.

Covington, Georgia - Hollywood of the SouthTM


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Business Video helps promote your business

Here's a quick and inexpensive way to improve your message to the marketplace, gain SEO traction and compete better.

These are experienced Entrepreneurs who have been in the TV and media industry a LONG time (Leslie won't let me say how long!) but they know their stuff. recommends contacting these folks in the Atlanta, GA area to help promote your business.

Dear Business Owner,

If you’re in business for yourself it is time for you to step into the light. That light is illuminating your image on your company’s web site. It doesn’t matter if you are a small business in the upstate of New York or a conglomerate in downtown Chicago, it’s time for you to step forward and be seen. Businesses today who compete on any level have to have an Internet presence. They also have to be “rank worthy” in some shape or form to be found in the mass clutter of the web. Hedge your bets and give your company the upper hand with VContent.

VContent is your very own web site video that features your companies’ owner, CEO or manager as the spokesperson. Your VContent will give your company a face and your business a boost. The face of your company will speak to your web site visitors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And your company gets a boost from the constant web traffic created by your VContent. Search engines constantly rank video content on the web, when your video starts to be ranked your site follows. Ranking come as your video is seen and people comment about it or “like” it.

32nd Street Media, LLC, is offering you a chance to get in the game with your own video content. We will visit your office and record your three-minute presentation. Why a three minute limit? Internet research says a viewer, on average, will not watch more than three minutes of a presentation or informative type video. It is also enough record time to introduce yourself and the company you represent and the services you provide.

32nd Street Media, LLC, will give you the information and support you need to make your Vcontent succeed. We will provide you with helpful information during the scripting phase. We will use our 31 years of broadcast experience to make you look and sound like a professional.

Vcontent is a great way to engage users who visit your web site. It will also be a conversation starter for potential customers and provide background information to new customers. Your VContent will give you the competitive edge over your rivals.

For more information about VContent, and our terms and conditions, email Reggie Flake at, or call him at 612.961.6370.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

BC's Provencial Sales Tax Returns April 1, impacts film industry negatively

Provencial Sales Tax impact 

BC's emphasis on raising revenues through increased taxes means film flight to other places with more tax-friendly messages for filmmakers.

In the competitive film and TV production industry, even a small change can move the needle and impact decisions to film in one place or another.

We heard it this week in discussions with filmmakers - film tax or other incentives are a key component of determining where to film!

Tax Credits help BC mobile film industry

This Vancouver filmmakers comments on the puzzling lack of understanding about the value of film tax credits to attract filming to their communities.

We agree. They definitely make sense and work!

Communities see filming as revenue stream

Parks Dept now charging for filming and other permits

Washington, DC joins a number of other communities who are looking to raise revenues by emphasizing permits, not just for filming or TV production but also for other events which previously were free.

Seems like film tax credits are not enough to generate revenues directly to communities, so they are either enforcing existing policies or creating new policies for film, TV, music video production and other "new" events.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Michigan film tax credits again under scrutiny

It's not the rate of the incentives this time. It's the total amount available.  Under proposed legislation, a $25 million cap is a reduction by 50% of the total amount available to filmmakers.

Once again, that sends an uncertain message to filmmakers about planning films in Michigan.

Will it drive away filming to other states (like Georgia, Louisiana, others?) and countries (Canada, others?) with more attractive and predictable film incentives?

It has done so in the past, but with many states scrutinizing the appearance of subsidizing wealthy filmmakers, it's a challenge many politicians and state officials must address!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Arizona film tax incentives being considered

Film Tax Credits.  Film Incentives. Film Rebates.  No matter what they are called, they are part of a state's realistic set of tools to attract filming.  Here's Arizona's new approach:
Arizona lawmakers looking to woo Hollywood are flirting with resurrecting a tax incentives program aimed at competing with New Mexico and other states that have long thrown free cash at production companies that film there.

The bill seeking to grant millions of dollars in tax breaks through 2043 would require production companies to hire some Arizona residents. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Energy and Military unanimously approved the bill Wednesday after local film and tourism leaders framed it as a jobs bill and argued Arizona would suffer economically if it didn’t do more to lure Hollywood to the state.

“This will grease the skids for Hollywood to come over here,” said Sen. Al Melvin, a Republican from Tucson and the bill’s sponsor, after the vote.
The bill, which has been introduced for the fourth time in four years, includes a 20 percent tax credit for multimedia productions that spend at least $250,000 in Arizona. Businesses could seek tax credits worth up to $15 million as long as they say the production was filmed in Arizona in the end credits, among other requirements.

The Arizona Commerce Authority would be tasked with weeding out abuses and ensuring the businesses are holding up their end of the deal. No more than $70 million in income tax credits each year could be preapproved under the proposed program.

FLIPSFilm's opinion:  Film tax incentives work.  They clearly "move the needle" to choosing between several locations and are an important part of the economic planning of productions.  It's an important reason for the continuing film flight from traditional filming sites.  States - and even communities within states - should look for all ways to attract valuable filming to cash starved economies.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Arizona steps up film credits to attract filming

The television and film industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, but many studios do not consider Arizona as a place to film because of its lack of film tax incentives.
"There are 30 plus states all across the country that have incentives to bring these type of productions to their states and invigorate the economy," said Chris LaMont, the founder of the Phoenix Film Festival and supporter of Senate Bill 1242.
"We don't have anything like that. We want a level playing field," he continued.
SB 1242, if passed, would give a 20 percent tax break to any multimedia production that satisfies certain requirements. Right now, many studios decide to shoot in neighboring New Mexico when they are looking for a Southwest setting, since that state offers tax incentives.
"It's a jobs bill for us," LaMont said.

The bill sets aside $70 million in tax credits for production companies to film in Arizona. However, pornographic or inappropriate films would not be permitted.

"We don't want obscene films to be shot here. Anything that is going to receive a tax credit is something we want to check," LaMont said.

In order to make sure the production meets Arizona guidelines, the legislation requires studios to submit a list of actors, the director and a script or synopsis of what will be shot. Additionally, the production must spend $250,000 in state to be eligible for the credit. The most a production could receive in tax breaks would be $15 million. That means they would have to spend $300 million in Arizona.

"We just want to see production come here because people want to film here in Arizona," LaMont said.
"People would rather film here in Arizona rather than go to New Mexico. But it's dollars and cents that really runs show business," he continued.
According to CBS 5 News research, New Mexico sets aside $50 million a year for tax breaks. It gives eligible productions a 25 percent tax break. California sets aside $100 million at 25 percent. New York rings in at the top of the list with $410 million in tax breaks at 30 percent.
Opponents point out the state is still struggling economically and tax breaks for any type of business might not be the best idea. Arizona last had a film tax break in 2007, which expired. LaMont said that without it, the state is losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs.
"Once a couple of production companies have success here, it's a snowball effect," he said.
"Suddenly everyone knows it's great to film in Arizona and the incentive program works."
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Al Melvin, a Tucson Republican. He said he expects the bill to pass the House and Senate if it makes it to the floor.
Click here to see a copy of the full legislation, click here.

Audit puts brakes on new film projects seeking incentives

Tennessee's film incentive program is pausing to audit its procedures and processes to ensure film production applicants meet all the criteria and the program is well managed.

This shows why states need to compete beyond financial incentives to attract filming - there's a lot that goes into deciding if a location is the "winner" and all the components have to be working well.

Monday, January 28, 2013

FLIPSFilm on the airwaves again!

A great experience with Alpharetta Business Radio X in our interview last week. Chris made us all feel welcome and he did a good job of describing the story for film production, local governments and the industry in general.

 Here's the link to the interview. discussion starts at 40:30 and lasts through 52:00.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Film Permitting Policies Gone Bad

We encounter a wide range of well intended but sometimes "impractical" film approval and permitting policies issued by local government communities.

Some are simply not thought through completely. Some are, well, a bit autocratic.

They do make for entertaining reading, except when the film/TV/music video production has to navigate them. was built to be an online, affordable one stop shop for communities to make it easier to film there and avoid roadblocks that may have crept into the approval process.  We want to avoid the kind of things like those listed below.

Here's a start...  comment and add yours to the list. We'd love to hear the stories! (Keep the communities anonymous please!)

1) "We want the permit application notarized"

2) "We want the license plate numbers of all vehicles to be used in the filming"
(14 day advance notice)
(How would the filming company know the tag numbers of vehicles to be rented until they get community filming approval? Are they supposed to rent the vehicles for 14 days to capture the tag number while waiting for approval?  And if the community denies the permit, wouldn't different vehicles be rented in the alternative filming community?)

3) "We want the name and home address of all filming company executives"  (Mr. Speilberg, what is your home address and phone number? Our clerk needs to know that ")

4) "List any convictions for community, state, federal laws broken"  (Sure, I had a DUI in college. Now it's 15 years later and I want to spend $500,000 of new revenue in your cash starved community. Are you saying you want to deny my application because of a morals clause?  Do they require that of ALL business and event applicants, such as fairs, festivals, road races, etc.?)

5) Provide to each City Council member the written proof you have notified local residents of intended filming (before the application is approved).  (A.  Why all the City Council members? Wouldn't the one involved in the community affected be better?  Why have THEM notified at ALL?  B. If the application is denied (for that date/time/ or rescheduled), the written notification process to the community residents as part of the application would have been wasted!)

6) The Deputy Sheriff knocked on our door demanding to see the film permit, even though we were filming exclusively on private property INSIDE THE HOUSE with permission from the owner, who was there at the filming.  (Big sigh!)

Please post your experiences and stories in the comments section!

Why he does not film in Michigan - a lesson for all communities who want to attract filming!

Why he does not film in Michigan

In his article (link above), Jeff Steele (film financier and experienced in the film industry), describes the importance of a stable political climate in potential filming states.  The long runway to planning a film requires a stable environment for matters like film tax credits and more.

If a state is tweaking, enhancing their policies, he indicates that's ok. If they are wholesale considering removing incentives or other major impacts, it isn't worth the risk. There are simply too many other places to film!

There's lessons for us all here:
1) Make it easy for a film production company to use your state/county/city/country.
2) Look for ways to incrementally enhance your competitive message to attract filming ( easy online film permitting might be one example)
3) It you plan to make big changes to the filming policy, be sure to weigh the long term impacts. They may surprise you!

What do you think about community policies and incentives? Do they really work? We'd love to hear your opinion.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mark Wahlberg's rage costs him film permit

Even seasoned actors and professionals run afoul of permitting laws.  Mark Wahlberg's creative license did not extend to the terms of New York City's permitting standards, so they pulled his permit.  After his film tirade - with extra effort for realism - he apologized to police and other officials to regain his permit to finish filming BROKEN CITY.

Full details on the story here:  Mark Wahlberg rage costs film permit

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Golden Globes 2013 tonight!

Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Golden Globe awards are tonight!

As the first film industry awards ceremony of the new year, the Golden Globes are often an indicator of who is likely to win an Academy Award later this year.  88 voting members (vs thousands for the Academy Awards) choose the winners of the best productions last year.  It's no wonder there's a lot of attention focused on the voting members!

The Golden Globe Awards will be presented on January 13 2013, from 5 pm PST, at the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton.

Although it's considered a bit less formal than the Oscars, it's still a big deal in the industry.  Filmmakers, media and industry bigshots all get a chance to mingle and shmooze.

We hope HFPA member Ray Arco (our buddy) has a great time at the award ceremony.

We will be watching from the Georgia Entertainment Gala tonight.

Hope you all enjoy the show.

Here's a bit more information about the Golden Globes in two recent articles...

History of the Golden Globes

The difference between Golden Globes and Oscars