Friday, December 3, 2010

Visual Media, Empowering Youth while Stimulating our Economy

From the moment that I first became a dad I’ve felt that one of the most important things I could do for my kids was to empower them to find their passion. If a young person can find something positive that they are passionate about it becomes a guiding light in their lives that helps to lead them away from negative pursuits.

As a parent, it can be easy to get irritated by how much time our kids spend playing video games, watching videos on Youtube and watching TV. But what if our kids were empowered to express themselves and actually create the video games and videos that people are watching?

Project AWARE has the defined goal of “Empowering young people to lead”. One of the ways that they accomplish this enormous task is by igniting each youth’s individual passion through visual media production.

Using true story lines, developed by the young people involved in each project, a script is refined and every aspect of making a film, from preproduction to post production, is taken on by each of the young people involved in the film.

In its most recent film, Project AWARE worked with the Sanford Film Club, gum spirits productions and over 125 students from Sanford High School to produce “April’s Heart” “based on real-life stories from a suburban high school. The characters in the movie are survivors … like their real-life counterparts in the cast and crew … like the young people who dared to put their stories on paper, and like teenagers everywhere who balance their immense challenges with unbelievable strengths.”

I attended and spoke at the premiere of the film at the Curtis Lake Christian Church in Sanford. Imagine how empowering it was for each of the students involved in producing the film to have a world premiere with a red carpet, tuxedos and evening gowns. It is something that will continue to propel and empower each of them throughout their lives.

The skills they learned during the process of making the film will also stay with them.

The Sanford Film Club advisor, James Harmon, invited me to speak to the club members two weeks ago and I can tell you that many of the film club members who are considered “youth at risk” are ready for the next project and ready to pursue work on visual media productions.

One student, who had a lead role in “April’s Heart” told me that he was continually suspended from school before he work on the film and has not been suspended since. Positive passion will do that to a kid.

Positive passion is also what we need to begin to feed and build the Maine economy.

I truly believe that Project AWARE has the power to take a youth at risk and turn him or her into a future visual media producer who will help to stimulate the Maine economy and mentor the next generation of kids at risk.

I am asking you to make a donation to Project AWARE so that they can continue their invaluable work. I have committed to raising $500 for Project AWARE by December 31st and Project AWARE has an overall goal of raising $5,000 in the same time frame.

You can do a donation through the Project AWARE website at or simply send me a note letting me know what you can contribute and I will take care of collecting the donation.

We can do great things in Maine as long as we continue to empower young people to lead.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hiring Local Visual Media Producers helped to win the Gubernatorial Election in Maine

In my last post I outlined who the five gubernatorial candidates hired to do their visual media production for their respective campaigns. Of the top three, Mitchell and Cutler hired out of state production companies and LePage stayed with local visual media producers.

As we now know, LePage won. Was this a win for local visual media producers? Only time will tell.

We can assume that Governor Elect LePage understands the impact of visual media production from his work as the general manager of Marden’s. Is there anyone in Maine who doesn’t know the Marden’s Lady (

On his YouTube channel his most popular video received over 20,000 views.
In short, local visual media production helped Governor Elect LePage win the election.

Visual media production can also help Maine win the battle for a healthier economic environment.

Maine currently has several terrific visual/new media programs at the Maine Media Workshops, The University of Maine and Southern Maine Community College. Most universities, colleges and community colleges in Maine offer some type of visual media training.

So what happens when those students graduate from these programs? In Maine, the opportunities are slim.

Maine has the geographic beauty and trained, hardworking visual media producers to attract more visual media production. Maine doesn’t have the infrastructure or the tax incentives to attract more visual media production.

How do we begin to fix this problem?

I would encourage Governor Elect Lepage to have someone on his staff reach into the Maine visual media community and collect intelligence and ideas on how we can build the visual media economy in Maine.

Two good places to start are the Film Commission and the Maine Film and Video Association. Go to them and ask them how we can improve the visual media economy in Maine, what they need in support to make their ideas work and what they are willing to do to implement their ideas.

I would also encourage Governor Elect LePage to reach out to the visual media students for their ideas. We can get them fired up and inspire them to work and live in Maine if they know that opportunities exist.

I’m also willing to put my time and effort into growing the Maine Visual Media economy. Contact me anytime Governor Elect Lepage, if you’d like my involvement .

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Political campaigns should"buy local" for visual media production

In today’s economic environment in Maine, the economic impact of film production is imperceptible because of factors beyond our immediate control.

What does have an impact is visual media production.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s many Maine visual media production companies were supported by companies producing corporate videos, infomercials, national commercials and local commercials with substantial budgets.

Today that has all changed. Technology and the internet have made the production and distribution of visual media available to everyone. Companies no longer have the same advantages of the past where expensive equipment and relationships gave them the advantage they needed to run profitable companies.

The process has made the production companies that have survived, leaner and more creative in their visual media endeavors.

This fall we are in the middle of a heated gubernatorial campaign. What also heats up during campaigns is the production of visual media. Like a farmer who tends his crops all year waiting for the fall harvest to make his money, political campaigns invest in visual media that becomes part of the local producers harvest.

Back in August I contacted all the candidates running for Governor and asked them who they hired for the visual media production.

When I called the Moody for Governor Headquarters, Jason answered the phone and explained to me that Black Fly Media is doing their visual media production. Nice. This is a great local company. Please click on the link to get more information and consider them for you local production needs.

John Morris from the Lepage for Governor Campaign called back and told me that Sunderland Weston in Bangor was producing their visual media and that they had a consultant in Portland hiring local producers. He assured me that everything they are producing is done locally.

David Loughran from the Mitchell for Governor Campaign wrote back to me, “We are using The Campaign Group ( to do our television ads. It is the same firm the campaign used in the primary. Their experience in political campaigns and their expertise in the creative arena are both impressive.”

The Campaign Group has offices in Philadelphia and California.

In addition, the Mitchell campaign has hired gum spirits productions to do some local production. They do terrific work.

Abby Cutler from the Cutler for Governor Campaign wrote,

” As for our production companies, we use Devine Mulvey (based in D.C.) for our T.V. spots. At least five of their crew is from Maine, including their PAs. They also make a point of buying all crew lunches and breakfasts from local companies.”

“We've also used Sally Levi (formerly at Lone Wolf, now a freelancer) to shoot a couple of gubernatorial forums and some outros, and Michael Babyak, who has shot some interviews for us and also does some editing for the campaign.”

Abby also took the time to meet with me at the Cutler campaign headquarters.

Kevin Scott called me back and I had a nice conversation with him. He hadn’t hired anyone for visual media production. I’d suggest we find someone to produce a safe driving video for him.

Of the five candidates two buy local, two import and buy local and one doesn’t have the funds to produce visual media.

What I would like to see in the next election is everyone buying 100% local. For example, I did some research and, as of the end of August, the Cutler campaign had paid over $70,000 to Devine Mulvey. While they are hiring local crew, most of that money goes out of state.

The same is true for the Mitchell campaign.

I know that there are resources right here in Maine for all Maine political campaign visual media production. Please be aware of that as you watch future campaign commercials.

Oh, and you’ll never see visual media littered on the side of the road after a campaign!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Dear candidate, are you using a Maine production company for your television ads?"

Dear Candidate,

Maine is filled with creative, talented and driven visual media producers. I hope that your current campaign was produced by a local Maine company.

If you used a local Maine company thank you. It is great when campaign funds go directly to stimulate the local economy.

If you used an out of state company we'd like to know your reasoning.

For local production resources I would suggest contacting the Maine Film and Video Association . They can help to direct you to a local visual media company that will fit your needs.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Note to All The Maine Gubernatorial Candidates

From: Cameron Bonsey []
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2010 4:09 PM
To: ''; ''; ''; ''; ''
Subject: Questions in Regard to the Importance of Visual Media Production for the State of Maine

To all,

My name is Cameron Bonsey and I publish a blog

The blog is also published as a newsletter and goes out to about 3,500 Maine business owners, lawmakers and film makers. In addition, when the subject is relevant to them, it goes to producers at companies like Warner Brothers and Sony.

My mission statement is:

“I created The Maine Film blog because I believe that film production can become an important part of Maine's "everyday" economy. I will post information that educates and inspires the people who come to this blog. This is an important segment of Maine's future economic growth and I want to facilitate its success.”

I would like feedback from each campaign in regard to how important visual media is to the Maine economy from both an economic and marketing perspective. Do you feel that we should invest in more infrastructure to support visual media? Should Maine increase its current visual media incentives to be competitive with the over 40 states that have better incentives? Should Maine develop a specialty incentive program to pursue particular films that promote Maine in a positive way? Do you have other ideas that could help to increase visual media production in Maine and job opportunities for Maine citizens?

I look forward to your responses and you can also reach me by phone at 807-7406.

Yours truly,

Cameron Bonsey

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Note to Governor Baldacci

This past Monday I ran into Governor Baldacci at Amato's and I had a nice conversation with him. I have copied my follow up note to him below and I hope it helps to reinforce the importance of visual media production in Maine.

Dear Governor Baldacci,

Thank you for your time at Amato’s today. As I mentioned to you, Coast of Maine Organic Products, Inc received a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) about 9 months ago. We have used that money to expand our Marion Township facility and hire another full time employee.

We have wonderful, hardworking and ingenious employees in Marion. They are a big reason that our organically certified gardening soils are distributed to over 700 retail locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-West. Our beautiful bags brand Maine wherever they are sold.

I have a deep love and respect for Maine and its citizens and I am proud that our company is an important employer in a depressed county.

I am determined to tell our story of several Maine companies working together to create organically certified products that promote the best of Maine.

You will get a sense of what I am saying if you take 7 minutes to watch our most recent video. In addition to promoting a product that we make for Master Nursery garden centers we were also able to promote Pineland Farms All-Natural Beef in Fort Fairfield and Gordon Kelley’s Peat bog in Cherryfield, Maine.

We are shooting a lot of beautiful video and we’ll be putting together several broadcast quality videos in the future. It there is anything the Department of Tourism needs from us we’d be happy to oblige.

Yours truly,

Cameron Bonsey

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Maine International Film Festival

The 13th Annual Maine International Film Festival opens tomorrow and will run until July 18th.

This festival attracts consumers from all over the Northeast and beyond and showcases more than 100 American independent, international and Maine-made films.

A large part of the focus of this blog is to educate the reader in regard to the economic impact of visual media production. It is clear from the reaction of the local Waterville community that MIFF has a deep and well defined economic impact.

Shannon Haines, who has done a terrific job as the Festival Director, tells me that “Last year we had just over 10,000 admissions over the 10 days. We have never done an economic impact study (mostly because we can’t do it in-house and can’t afford to hire someone), but we know that MIFF creates a big boost, especially for the Downtown. “

David Gulak of Barrels Community Market certainly agrees, “MIFF brings a level of evening energy to downtown that helps build a healthy nightlife and late-night traffic for businesses. We definitely notice an increase in the quantity and diversity of people coming through the market. Plus, they are often very inquisitive and looking to learn about the community and spend some local dollars in a meaningful way. From an employee standpoint, it's also cool to take alternate breaks to go see great movies during the work week.

Billy Dangler of The Pleasant Street Inn says, “During the festival the inn is usually totally booked and very active as people come and go. The festival has always been a great venue from an economic point of view for most of the community."

Miff receives a tremendous amount of support from the Maine Film Office, including a $50,000 grant from the Maine Department of Tourism in 2006. The money is well spent as MIFF continues to grow in reputation and attendance helping to brand and market the State of Maine.

This year MIFF has included the "Making it in Maine Day" on Saturday, July 17th. Part of the festivities will include the "Making it in Maine" Reception, 5:00-6:30pm, The REM Forum, The Center, 93 Main Street, Waterville. Hosted by Maine Public Broadcasting Network and Maine Film & Video Association with support and participation from the Maine Film Office and the Maine Arts Commission. You will be able hear from MPBN about Maine based programming opportunities, meet representatives of the Maine Film Office, Maine Film & Video Association, and Maine Arts Commission, and network with filmmakers who truly are Making it in Maine.

I would encourage any Maine based visual media producer to attend this event, mingle and find out what the Maine Film Office and the Maine Film Commission have for plans to improve and increase opportunities for visual media production in Maine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blessed with Obsession

“I have been either blessed or cursed with the capacity to pursue a single goal for six years.” This line comes from an email that I received from Ryan Bennett as he wrote about his first feature film Ramblin’ Round that will begin shooting in Maine around the middle of July.

The line connected with me because the ability to pursue a single goal is something that we can all relate too. We constantly watch athletes pursue single goals and I think that we forget that writers, artists and filmmakers have to achieve the same type of focus in order to succeed.

I have spoken with Ryan on the phone and exchanged several emails with him. In our communication I’ve been struck by this twenty-four-year-old’s intellect, enthusiasm and drive.

From his high school education at Maine Central Institute where he was a three sport athlete and captain of both the football and basketball teams for two years, to his film education at the Vancouver Film School and his work for Gosch Productions/Fun Little Movies in Burbank, California and Company 3 in New York, Ryan’s drive to produce his own film flourished.

In 2009 Ryan wrote, produced and directed the short film version of Ramblin’ Round that ultimately won the Maine Individual Artist Fellowship Award for the Performing Arts. Using that $13,000 grant as seed money, Ryan has been able to attract over $250k of in-kind support from Company 3, Sound One, Kodak and Deluxe.

Ramblin’ Round has also been selected to be part of Panavision’s New Filmmaker Program, which includes a camera package worth $240k.

He has formed American Whirlwind Pictures, LLC and with the support of the Finance Authority of Maine they are able to offer investors a 40% tax credit.

The combination of state grant, tax credit, investors and donations from family and friends increase the positive chances for Ramblin’ Round.

Ryan is bringing in actors and crew from relationships he has developed around the country and hiring local crew and local actors. There is an open casting call June 26th and 27th in Bangor. Follow the link for more information.

Success at anything in life is never guaranteed but just a like a great athlete, Ryan has followed a rigorous routine and surrounded himself with the best teammates to help assure the success of Ramblin’ Round and American Whirlwind Pictures, LLC.

Their success will also benefit the State of Maine and the visual media community.

I plan on following their process just like I follow the Red Sox. I’ll be cheering from the stands and trying not to drink too much beer.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Changing the Personality of the Film Office and Film Commission

In my last post I encouraged the Maine Film Commission and the Film Office to meet with the Maine visual media community through a Maine Film and Video Association meeting. This will take time to set up and individual schedules will prevent some film commission members from attending regardless of advance notice.

So how do we facilitate immediate communication that will lead to the visual media community understanding the goals and efforts of the film commission and the film office?

One simple step would be to list biographies of the film commissioners on the film office website along with their personal goals for the film office and the film commission.

For years I’ve implored the film office to do a consistent enewsletter to keep the film community involved and educated. I’ve seen a few but I haven’t received one for over a year and I can’t seem to find a place to sign up for one on the Film Office website.

Facebook and Twitter are used by virtually everyone in the visual media community. I did a search but I couldn’t find anything for the Maine film office or the Film Commission. Other film offices have had facebook pages for a long time. There is no cost and they allow for multiple lines of instantaneous communication that help to create a better sense of community.

A YouTube channel for the film office where local visual media professionals could help provide content would also develop sharing and camaraderie and promote the skills of Maine visual media producers.

Cleaning up the film office website database needs to be done. To my knowledge the professional database has not been updated since the $20,000 website went online back in 2006. If we are truly going to connect the visual media community, accurate contact information is imperative.

On the film office website information on festivals and competitions list three film festivals and no competitions. If you are tuned into the visual media community you know there are many more festivals and competitions in Maine and they all need support from the film office and film commission.

The Maine Film office is the only publicly funded visual media office in Maine. Here is their mission statement:
“The Maine Film Office is a division of the Maine Office of Tourism and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. The film office helps bring film, television and other media projects to Maine; works to expand and improve Maine's in-state production industry; and helps all Maine made media productions succeed.”

The only way to make this statement a reality is to use the 21st century tools that are at their finger tips and change the personality of the film office and film commission.

My hope is that the five new members and the six existing members of the film commission will push to make these things happen to benefit of all Maine citizens.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bringing the Film Commission and Visual Media Community Together

The positive energy and the number of visual media projects being produced in Maine continues to grow. Fortunately, the Film Commission also continues to grow and is now, after a long period of time, fully appointed with 11 members.

My last post talked about my enthusiasm and hope that Dr. Owen Smith, Chair, New Media Department, University of Maine Orono, would bring energy and direction to the film commission. I know Owen and have met with him so I have a sense of who he is as a person and his commitment and skills within the visual media world.

I don’t know a lot about the other new members. On the film office website it lists each members name and their employment information. There is no biographical information and no statement by each member letting us know the things they would each like to accomplish to improve the visual media economy in Maine.

It would be wonderful to have a Film Commission roundtable meeting where members of the visual media community could come and ask questions, mingle with the film commissioners and get a sense who they are and what they want to accomplish as film commissioners.

This might be a great opportunity for the Maine Film and Video Association to host a meeting with this type of setting. It would enhance the communication between the Film Commission and the Maine visual media community.

Let’s have that meeting. As the communication grows, the willingness to listen to ideas, share the work load and help each other will grow.

I would like to help coordinate it and I’ll certainly bring along my questions, ideas and willingness to get involved.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Thanks to the Past, the Future is Bright in Maine

Two big, positive things happened for the Maine Visual Media community this past week. Owen Smith was named to the Maine Film Commission and the producers of the movie "Wyeth," have met with the Governor and several state agencies to talk about the potential of having a significant portion of the film shot in Maine.

Owen Smith is chair of the University of Maine’s New Media Department, and already vice chair of the Maine State Arts Commission. I met with Owen, Renee Kelley and Deb Neuman back in September to discuss the idea of combining the UMAINE system with the film office and film commission.

Owen has accomplished a lot as one of the driving forces behind the New Media Department and he understands the complexities and intricacies that come with visual media production. He also has immediate access to young people with a thirst to learn and get involved. This will be the most important component of his selection to the Film Commission.

The second big positive thing for Maine is the Wyeth movie. I believe that this movie will be shot in Maine for several reasons.

One reason is the work that has been done in the past.

During the 2005 and 2006 legislative session there was a tremendous amount of work done to put our current percentage of incentives in place.

In 2008 “ LD 2319” was introduced to allow higher film incentives for a single, Maine based and produced film titled “Tumbledown” written by Desi Van Til and it would have been directed by Sean Mewshaw. It momentarily passed and then was defeated after a few behind the doors discussions.

In the spring of 2009 the producer, Mark Sennett and the director, Mick Garris of the Stephen King movie “Bags of Bones” came to Maine to meet with the Governor and his staff and several legislators in the hope that “LD 1449” would pass and allow BoB to be shot in Maine. It passed the House and Senate and stalled at the appropriations table.

These events allowed for continued awareness of the potential economic and marketing impact that visual media production can have on every citizen in Maine.

Another reason I believe that the Wyeth movie will be shot in Maine is the involvement of Donna McNeil and the Maine Arts Commission. Donna is a passionate advocate for the arts in Maine and a hard worker who will make sure that all the follow-up and relationship building is done to give this film its best chance of success.

The Maine Arts Commission is also involved in another, smaller and just as important, film project titled “Ramblin' Round”. Ryan Bennet, who wrote the script, will act as producer and director. He won the 2010 Maine Performing Arts Fellowship.

Ryan grew up in Pittsfield , Maine and he is a talented and driven young man who is using his arts fellowship to help finance the feature length film project and establish a Maine based production company.

With the help of the Maine Visual Media community, Donna McNeil, the Maine Arts Commission and a few visionary investors Ryan will shoot “Ramblin’ Round” in Maine in July.

There are several other small film projects currently shooting or about to shoot in Maine. You’ll be hearing about them soon.

Let’s cheer and support Owen, Donna and Ryan as it will benefit all of us in the future.

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Incentives for Maine Visual Media Producers

If you are a film or video maker and you have a project that plans to spend at least $75,000 on production expenses in Maine, then you may qualify for the The Maine Visual Media Incentive.

Go to to find out more.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Teaching Youth, while instilling Passion and Empowering them to lead.

Connecting with students is one of the most important elements of successful teaching. In today’s world with information, peer pressure and parental pressure constantly presented to young people it is easy to understand how many can be overwhelmed and overlooked.

It is a visual media world with youtube, twitter, facebook, video games and everything else that is available on the internet. Young people spend hours every day viewing and using some sort of visual media.

So what if you were able to take a subject that was important to a local group of high school students and show them how to turn it into a story and then produce a high quality movie based on their own script?

It’s a powerful process that can ignite and entrust youth to be leaders in their own community.

Project AWARE has done this in Maine communities and the results have been inspiring. I personally attended the premiere of their latest film, "Influenced" and I was fascinated by the stories that the teenagers told and how empowered all of them were by the process of making the film.

This is education at its best.

I would like to see this process happen in as many Maine communities as possible. In the next two weeks there will be two assemblies at Falmouth High School where students will go through a brief workshop and view the movie, "Influenced". The intent is to help create “ a community where young people are leaders, and are addressing issues of concern in their lives from their perspective and in their voice…. a place where their voices, thoughts, concerns, and solutions are welcomed and heard… and from that place, youth-led action is taken. “

On Monday March 22- 6-8pm in the FHS Music Room there will be a parent night where the workshop and “Influenced” will be presented to parents.

From that point forward there is the opportunity for Falmouth students to create their own film and express themselves in regard to issues that impact them and their community.

All of this comes outside of the local education budget. If you would like to donate to the Falmouth Presentations please send checks to”
Falmouth High School,
In the memo line write "Enrichment Program"
74 Woodville Rd
Falmouth, Maine 04015

If you would like to donate directly to Project AWARE please send checks to:

Project AWARE, Inc.
PO Box 1244,
Saco, ME 04072

Friday, March 5, 2010

Maine Films to Receive Industry Review

Getting professional feedback on a film project, as it is in progress, is important and not easy to do. The Maine Film and Video Association has arranged for five Maine films to be reviewed by six industry experts and they’d like you to come along and enjoy the process.

The five films are:

Morgan Myers' “No Apologies: The Education of Gary Reed Meyer” :

Ben Kahn's “Felon”:

Daniel Stephens and Brooke Brewer's “Designing Change”: password: design

Huey “In Good Time: The Piano Jazz of Marian McPartland”

David Berez and Gregory Roscoes’ “Raw Faith”

The Industry Experts:

Sara Archambault - Program Manager, LEF Foundation New England

Cynthia Fenneman - President and CEO, American Public Television

Ben Fowlie - Founder/Director, Camden International Film Festival

Tom Koch - VP, PBS International

Mary Lampson - Film Editor (Independent Lens, American Masters) now based in Maine

Louise Rosen – moderator, international sales agent, Vice Chair of the Maine Film & Video Association

Location: Maine Studios, 235 Presumpscot St., Portland, ME

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Communication is the key

I met with a filmmaker about two weeks ago. They had some questions in regard to the visual media landscape in Maine and simply wanted to get a sense of good contacts and people they can hire for the films they have planned to shoot in Maine.

During our discussion I learned that they had tried to contact the Maine Film Office in the past and never received any follow up. Now, to be fair, this is one person’s experience.

It is also my experience and an experience that many visual media professionals have relayed to me.

I have addressed this issue with everyone in charge at the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Governor’s office and I have written to and met with dozens of legislators in regard to the topic. The mantra is always the same, “State employees are under siege and staffing is limited.”

Once I explain to them that the follow up I am talking about is basic answers to basic questions that could be addressed in a quick email or phone call and that it is a staff issue, not a financial issue the next response is “Be careful, the Governor’s office might just shut down the Film Office. “

Of course this line of thought makes no sense to me. The State of Maine needs a Film Office, a Film Office that is proactive and totally involved in the visual media community.

There are several organizations in Maine doing wonderful things with limited staff and limited funding. The Film Office budget is over $200,000 and as part the Tourism Department they have access to a large staff.

To illustrate the lack of follow up I have decided to post a string of unedited email exchanges that I have had, since July 31st 2009, with the film office staff and the Governor’s office staff in regard to the film office budget and the process of applying to become a film commissioner. You can find these exchanges by clicking on the following links “Trying to find out the Film Office budget” and “Applying to become a Film Commissioner”

I invite you to give me feedback. If my approach is offsetting or inappropriate to you please let me know. I am willing to hear that feedback and make changes.

If you feel that these emails indicate a lack of follow up on the side of the Film Office and the Governor’s office please let them know.

It looks like the state will soon approve new film tax credits that will help indigenous visual media producers fund their projects.

What we need now is a Film Office that reaches out to those film makers and brings them together with insightful communication, follow up and the use free tools like Facebook, Twitter and a regular enewsletter.

As always, I am willing to do my part to help.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

One Idea to Stimulate the Maine Visual Media Economy

I finally did it. After more than 2 years as the Director of Marketing for Coast of Maine Organic Products, I was able to convince our founder, Carlos Quijano, to hire a professional videographer to shoot some training videos for our high end, organic soil line.

Carlos has done a brilliant job of marketing Coast of Maine products with beautiful images of our bags and wonderful relationships with the independent garden centers that carry our products.

I’ve spent the last 2 years shooting some amateur videos and streaming them from youtube with links through our website. My point with Carlos was that in today’s world we need to make our products come alive and use the videos to deepen our relationships with the independent garden centers that we work with.

In addition to marketing “Coast of Maine” I was also able to take a small step in helping to stimulate the local Maine Visual Media Economy. I hired Brett Plymale who was the videographer for the HGTV series, "People, Places & Plants" and director, editor, videographer and jack of all trades for “A Chemical Reaction”

Like everyone in the visual media business in Maine, Brett is working hard to create work and work with others to make a days pay. Thankfully, I was able to work with Brett so that he would have a couple of days pay.

So how can I help Brett get more work and continue my mission of making Maine a better place to work in the visual media industry? Simple. As the Marketing Director for Coast of Maine I have constant contact with thousands of garden centers and hundreds of companies throughout Maine and across the United States. I am constantly talking about visual media to them and now I have some simple, professional training videos that they will be watching and I’ll be encouraging them to contact Brett and other Maine visual media producers because I believe that Maine has the talent to compete with visual media producers across the country.

This also spurned an idea.

Many of Maine’s most successful companies hired visual media talent from outside of Maine. Why? Because, the visual media industry doesn’t do a good enough job of constantly marketing itself to the companies that could ultimately hire them.

I plan on doing everything in my power to change that. Here is a small but vital start:

The Hire Local Maine Visual Media Talent Facebook page. I have started to create the page and I invite all of you to participate. I created events from different organizations in Maine and please don’t hesitate to voice your positive ideas.

I will use the page to refer companies too, that are considering producing visual media.

With some input from other talented Maine visual media producers maybe we can all market each other to produced a few extra days of work and stimulate the visual media economy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Letter to the Maine Joint Standing Committee on Taxation

From: Cameron Bonsey []
Sent: Monday, January 18, 2010 9:46 AM
To: Joe Perry (SenJoe.Perry@legislature.maine); 'Lawrence Bliss'; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; 'L Gary Knight'; 'Brian Langley'
Subject: Film Incentives

To the Taxation Committee ,

To those of you who don’t know me my name is Cameron Bonsey. I have been a visual media advocate for the State of Maine since I first wrote to Angus King in 2002 asking for more proactive communication from the State Funded Film office.

I worked very hard on the first round of incentives that passed in 2006. I was very pleased with the work that Tom Watson did in regard to incentives this past spring. His follow up and work ethic are outstanding.

As you look at incentives for the future it is important to look at how the current incentives have worked for Maine.

I was very diligent back in 2007 in trying to simply get the information from the film office on projects that had qualified for incentives . It took months of writing and follow up ( I was told that the request came under the “Freedom of Information Act”)and finally I received a bunch of pages taped together obviously printed from some excel spreadsheet. What I simply wanted to know, as someone who had worked to pass the incentives, was “did they work?”

This December I found out through Jennifer Rooks, the host of Maine Watch, that Linda Valentino was taking over the push for incentives and that Lea Girardin, the Director of the Film Office, was delivering new language to her. I requested that information and I did receive it. In addition I again asked for the projects that had qualified and I took the time to build an excel spreadsheet based on the paperwork that I had received in 2007 so that Lea would know exactly what I was looking for.

As a result of that information here is a summary of how those numbers breakdown:

53 projects the applied for the tax credit. The projects were submitted by 5 companies. In alphabetical order those companies are Blair Schmidt productions, Compass Light, L.L. Bean Inc, Lonewolf Documentary Group and Post Office Editorial.

The totals for those projects were: Total direct spend $10,962,014, total direct spend in Maine $8,295,865, total certified wage $2,938,225, non-Mainer wages $73,196.25 , Mainer wages $2,865,029. Based on these numbers the tax credit liability totals $351,123 .

L.L. Bean received over $134,000 in tax credits. It is a great company that promotes Maine but did that credit lead them to shoot more projects in Maine? Did they put that money directly into stimulating the economic visual media landscape?

Since the last incentives passed we have spent approximately (06 through 09) $800,000 in operating the film office and another $350,000 in incentives for a total of $1,150,000 and an average of $287,500 per year. Can we use these numbers to negotiate grants or funding to go directly to some deserving Maine based projects?

The first thing that we need to look at is “Are we doing the most with the resources that we currently have at hand?”

I hear the mantra over and over again that the film office doesn’t have the resources. This simply isn’t true. I can provide you with a list of states that do more with less.

I have tried since 7-31-09 to get a complete breakdown of the film office budget. In New Hampshire I can click on a link and see the entire breakdown of how their film office budget is being spent.

Open and proactive communication is the key to the success of most private business. In working with the media industry it is even more important because the industry is built on communication.

I asked the film office for years to do a blog. I finally did one myself. When I post something I also use it as a newsletter and distribute it to others that I feel might have an interest. Most of you have received at least one email from me with a blog post.

We also need some video promoting Maine. In 2005 I convinced George Mitchell to do a video promoting Maine to other producers. At the time he was the Chairman of the Board for Disney. We shot the raw footage at the channel 6 studios. The film office and the film commission turned it down. With a little editing and adding some beautiful Maine locations it would have been a powerful piece. George was amazing.

I also produced a video promoting Maine with Roy Finch in 2008. Roy shot the film WAKE in Bath in 2002. The link will bring you to an article in MovieMaker Magazine (Published by Maine native Tim Rhys) explaining why Roy shot in Maine. The video that we shot was very basic and concise. At the end I promoted the Film Office, The Maine Film and Video Association, Maine and Company and the Portland Media Artists. I sent the link to the FO and the Department of Tourism. I received a call from the Department of Tourism saying that they would like to stream it from the FO website if I could reedit the piece and take off the endorsement of those other organizations. I said no. Those organizations are important to promoting Maine media and bringing business to Maine. I have no idea why anyone would want to delete them from the list.

The film office spent $20,000 on its website during the 2005/06 fiscal year. The structure of the website is good. The updating of information is bad. The listing of media professionals has needed to be updated for a very long time. In a meeting that Barney Martin and I hosted for the MFVA and other media professionals back in December of 2008, Barney spoke to Lea in regard to “evergreening” the information. It is now 2010 and any producer interested in hiring Maine crew to work on a project is going to get information that is 4 or 5 years old. This is not fair to the media professionals that the FO is supposed to be promoting.

I see that I have already written too much and yet, there is so much more to tell. I love Maine. I know how hard the media industry is to survive in, especially in today’s climate. I don’t work in the media industry anymore but I have traveled the state speaking to municipalities and economic development groups, mentored young people interested in the business, published a blog, produced two videos promoting Maine, along with Barney Martin I brought the “Bag of Bones” director and producer to Maine to meet with the Governor and I have developed relationships with producers around the country who want to shoot in Maine and more importantly with producers in Maine who want to shoot their projects in Maine.

What has been the cost to the taxpayers of Maine? “$0”.

The taxpayers of Maine deserve a Film Office that makes the most of the resources at hand. My direct, analytical experience tells me that the resources are not being used properly. If we are going to do what is best for every citizen in Maine we need to make sure that the system is working properly before we simply put new tax incentives in place.

I would be happy to talk to any of you at any time if you feel my voice has value. You can reach me at 807-7406.

I appreciate the fact that each of you have taken the time to give back to the State of Maine. Have a wonderful day and know that your efforts do make a difference.

Yours truly,

Cameron Bonsey