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.

No comments: