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.