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.