Friday, September 28, 2007

Maine Needs an Extreme Makeover!

Daisy Wight received the call out of the blue. The gentleman on the other end asked all kinds of questions in regard to Broughman Builders and their capabilities. Daisy thought it was just another sales call with someone trying to sell her some type of service.

The gentleman at the other end of phone was the Associate Producer of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”, and when he finally informed Daisy who he was she almost fell over. Come to find out he already knew a lot about Broughman Builders and their reputation for quality construction and great work ethic. He knew from his research that Broughman Builders was the right company to help bring a community together to rebuild a home for a deserving family, in less than a week.

The Associate Producer let Daisy know that she had 24 hours to make the phone calls and decide whether or not to get involved with the project. Daisy knew when she hung up the phone that she and her husband, Mike, wanted to get involved and 4 hours later she had made the contacts with her friends, business associates, suppliers and business competitors. They were all ready and willing to donate their time, knowledge and product to make the next “Extreme Make Over: Home Edition.”

Here is the beauty of film and television production. Motivated, caring people are brought together for a short period of time, with each taking on a specific task. Each of them is dependent on the other to complete their task and the timeline is short and intense. On a well run production the result is great bonding and camaraderie. That is exactly what happened with “Extreme Make Over: Home Edition”

The Ray-Smith family of Milbridge received a direct benefit when “Extreme Maker: Home Edition” chose their family to receive a new home. The entire State of Maine will receive a less direct but still powerful benefit, worth more than the $700,000 the new Ray-Smith home is valued at, when the show airs on ABC later this year. The State could never budget for this type of marketing.

I believe that reaching out and solidifying relationships with producers who have shot in Maine is integral to Maine’s future media production success. So, I did a little research and found the contact information for Diane Korman, the Senior Producer for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Diane was kind enough to respond to the questions I asked. Her answers were terrific and hopefully, they will help us to understand how we can bring more productions to Maine and help to build another sustainable portion of the Maine economy.

What did you enjoy most about producing a show in Maine?

Meeting the community and joining with them to recognize a local hero was the best part of producing Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in Maine.

Everyday neighbors worked together, sacrificing their time to help a stranger. Like Cary Weston of Sutherland Weston, who didn’t sleep for a week to help with both media and pr and project manage the build. It is that kind of dedication that makes this show possible.

Were you able to find and access the necessary local help to produce the show?

Over 850 volunteers came out to help make this project possible. The Chamber of Commerce provided invaluable help in bringing the local resources together. For example, Wal-mart provided 8 pallets of water, gave $8,500 in designer gift cards, and stocked the house full of groceries

Would you, as a producer of any show or film, come back to Maine to shoot again? Why or Why not?

The Ray-Smith show marks our second time shooting in Maine, and if this show is picked-up for a sixth season, we certainly would come back to help another deserving family.

Did the Maine Film office assist your efforts and to what degree?

Because we were shooting on private property we did not require much assistance from the film office. However, they did provide us with excellent iconic locations to shoot the EMHE Bus driving by like the scenic lighthouses.

Will the show qualify for Maine’s current incentives and does your production look at the incentives each state offers in making a decision in regard to shooting in a particular state based on the incentives they offer?

Unlike most film shoots, our TV show follows the nomination of deserving families, and secondly looks at locations and the obstacles or incentives they provide.

In your opinion what is the best thing that the State of Maine can do to attract more film and television production in the future?

In traveling the 50 States, I have seen many types of incentives to attract Hollywood productions and I believe an aggressive economic development policy, which provides security, first-responders and user-friendly permitting is the key to attracting more entertainment business to the state of Maine.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Economic Inspiration

Maine offers many great opportunities and a wonderful setting for raising a family.
Unfortunately, Maine has not developed into a great setting for economic opportunities. I am hoping that this blog can become a part of helping to create change that will improve the economic environment in Maine.

Film and television production can become a clean, sustainable and consistent part of the Maine economy. As evidence of this we only have to look to our brethren New England States.

Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut all have passed film production incentive plans that are among the most progressive in the United States and 2.5 to 3 times more than the incentives that Maine passed in the spring of 2006.

Those states are reaping millions in economic reward. Just to back this statement up, here is a link to a recent article on Massachusetts and its new incentive plan:

There will be people who argue that additional film incentives will cost the state money. The simple fact is that money from film production that comes into the state ignites the economy first before any money is returned to the film project. If no films come to Maine to shoot we haven’t lost a penny. If we do not have additional incentives, Maine will lose out on most of the possible film projects that express interest in shooting here because even though Maine has some incredible, distinct locations, they can be replicated or faked through movie magic in states with the best incentives.

Any feature film we do get will come when someone like Richard Russo (Empire Falls) or Todd Field (In the Bedroom) who has a deep commitment to Maine, reaches down and fights to bring the film project here. Thank you to both of you.

I think we all can understand the immediate positive economic impact of film production relating to employment and sales of goods, lodging and food. The magic of film is how it keeps giving back to the economy long after the production crew has left town.

50 years ago Peyton Place was shot in Camden. In the June 9th Portland Press Herald there was article celebrating the 50th anniversary. It contained the following quotes:

"After the movie was released, tourists flocked to Camden in search of the places where "Peyton Place" had been filmed. A half-century later they're still coming, and Camden has pricey real estate and high incomes.

"If there was a seminal event that changed the mind-set of the people here, this was it," Bregy said. "Having a major motion picture made here made people think this must be a unique place."

There are still people coming to Camden because Peyton place was shot there.

The most recent feature film shot in Maine was the award winning Empire Falls.

Kerry Pomelow , who purchased the “Empire Grill” in Skowhegan with her business partner Tom Miller after the film was shot, says that she estimates that 30% of her overall business comes from people curious about the grill because they saw the movie “Empire Falls”.

These are real, down home Maine examples of economic development because of film production. There are hundreds of these same examples from these two great films and from other films that have shot in Maine. The true, positive economic impact can’t be accurately calculated because the information can’t be tracked but the results are real and they escalate into millions of dollars that Maine never would have seen if those films did not shoot here.

Every citizen in Maine will benefit if we are able to pass the additional film incentives and bring more film production to Maine.

In the meantime we need to reach out to Maine’s in-state residents and invite them to get involved. At the same time we need to aggressively market Maine as a beautiful state to live and produce movies in.

That is the simple point of this blog. I invite you to post your opinion and please invite your friends. We can make great things happen!