Sunday, June 15, 2008

Funding the Maine Film Office, How does Maine Compare?

On December 29th 2007 I shared the stage at the Bangor Film festival with the Assistant Director of the Maine Film Office, Greg Gadberry. Greg had been invited to speak because of his position in the film office. The brothers who started the film festival, Josh and Seth Gass, had invited me to speak because they had read my blog.

Greg introduced himself by saying “ My name is Greg Gadbury. I am the assistant director of the Maine film office, which is not the smallest division of state government but its real close. There are two of us and a group of volunteers and a budget that would probably embarrass most high school marching bands. Umm..”

I interjected and said “That’s two hundred thousand, right?

Greg responded by saying “That’s …well that’s.. no actually a hundred and ninety seven thousand dollars. Two people and thirty thousand dollars operational funds. That’s a little bit less than some film offices have for marketing alone. So needless to say we’re.. like a lot of things in Maine.. tourism other things.. umm..in terms of funding we’re in the fourties in comparison to other states.”

I have posted this clip on YouTube and I would encourage you to click on the link and listen to it yourself:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=caiMnwhcT5w

As Greg introduced the idea of Maine in comparison to other states it is fair to actually list the budgets of film offices with state populations that are comparable to Maine’s. Here is the list by state, population ranking and population:

Nebraska, 38th, 1,711,263
Idaho, 39th, 1,293,953
Maine, 40th, 1,274,923
New Hampshire, 41st 1,235,986

I contacted each state film office and ask them for their budget information. Here are their responses

Nebraska

From: Laurie
Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 12:52 PM
Subject: Re: Maine Film Office

Cameron. Feel fortunate! The Nebraska Film Office budget is $37,000. This includes salary, Locations, Cineposium and our direct marketing post card campaign, sent out 4x year.

Best,
Laurie Richards


Idaho
From: Peg Owens
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 9:52 AM
Subject: RE: Film office size and budget

Hi Cameron,

Our budget is about $200,000 – divided roughly in half for salaries/benefits and marketing. We have two people – actually 1.5 because I manage the film program and several areas in tourism while Kat is dedicated just to the film office.
Peg Owens
Idaho Tourism
Idaho Film Office

New Hampshire

From: Matthew Newton [mailto:mnewton@library.state.nh.us]
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2007 8:08 AM
Subject: RE: Film office size and budget

Cameron:

Not sure our data will help you any - my total budget is $100K. I am currently the only employee in the office. Half of my budget is used for salary and benefits. I apply quite a bit of Yankee ingenuity in utilizing the other half for promotion, expenses, etc.

Matthew W. Newton
State of New Hampshire
Film & Television Office
Web: www.nh.gov/film

In regard to population base, it is clear that Maine is at the top in funding its film office. They are also at the top in regard to the percentage of the funding that goes directly to salaries and benefits and at the bottom in regard to percentage of funding used for marketing.

I would like to see Maine at the top in regard to creative use of the funding that is available. Like New Hampshire, let’s use some “Yankee ingenuity” and really start marketing Maine as a film production destination.

1 comment:

Charles said...

Hi Cameron,

I just read your post at New England Film regarding tax incentives for filmmakers in Maine (or the lack thereof!) It's funny, not two days ago, I wrote Tim Rhys of Moviemaker magazine about this very subject. Recently I had an ideA to help promote film incentives in the the state of Maine. Following is a part of the email I sent him regarding the idea:

As part of helping increasing awareness, I thought to myself, "Self...why not have a Maine Filmmaker's Conference?" It may have already been done, I don't know. Empty House Film recently did a Maine Film Night which was a tremendous success, being held at Merrill Auditorium. This sort of thing would be great as a part of a larger weekend symposium, with guest speakers, the showing of Maine films, and the conducting of workshops. Some of the speakers might include high profile Maine-based film folks (Jonathan Frakes, David E. Kelly and Jenny Bicks, amongst others) as well as perhaps key legislators who are working on the tax incentives for filmmakers. Even some activism training helping people better communicate the benefits of filmmaker tax incentives to state government) This could be held at a single location or several (Expo, the local hotels, Nickelodeon, the now closed Movies on Exchange) to accommodate the different types of activities. Sponsorship
might be found with out-of-state film companies who have had an eye on the state for a long time, as well as local production outfits.


Well, that's my two cents worth!

Thanks,
Chuck Muldoon