Thursday, January 17, 2008

Save our film jobs!

South Carolina's Secretary of Commerce Joe E. Taylor pushed our film industry off the roof last year. Though I can certainly understand Mr. Taylor's concerns regarding the price of business incentives, I believe he has taken it upon himself to interpret the proviso offering those incentives to filmmakers in a manner diametrically opposed to the intent of the legislators who drafted it.

What I'm stating here is the TIP of an ice burg not affected by global warming. We are a small industry (only bringing around 64 million dollars into the local economy last year), so apparently few think to investigate further. If they did, they would immediately see the brain drain going on over at Commerce. Lasting implications for SC in MANY areas besides film? Sadly, yes.

Here is a shot of me working on the movie Death Sentence. And, no, Mr. Taylor, contrary to what you might tell the governor, I did not make $8 an hour doing this!

Subject: Film SC, a grassroots organization, formed to promote South
Carolina film industry


FilmSC, Grassroots Organization, Formed to Promote the Film Industry

FilmSC, a grassroots non-profit membership organization created to promote the film industry within the state of South Carolina, announced its formation today. Comprised of working film industry professionals as well as members from the business community who have an interest in growing movies within the state, FilmSC is dedicated to advancing the film industry in South Carolina through education, professional training, networking, and advocacy.

FilmSC will focus its efforts on four main areas: creating high paying jobs in the motion picture industry for South Carolinians; strengthening South Carolina's motion picture and television production infrastructure; developing educational opportunities to help residents find jobs in the motion picture industry, and establishing an environment where creative talent and new media industries can flourish.

"From July 2006 to June 2007, the film and television industry in the state of South Carolina was an amazing success story," said Martin Bluford, President of FilmSC. "'From Army Wives' in Charleston to 'Leatherheads' in the Upstate, 'Asylum' in Rock Hill to 'Who's Your Caddy' in Aiken, our state was selected for six feature films, two television pilots, as well as numerous commercials. Over 7100 high-paying jobs resulted, with more then $64 in direct expenditures invested in our state's economy. Since early summer the pace of film production in South Carolina has plummeted and FilmSC is working hard to turn that around."

FilmSC's Board of Directors is comprised of Bluford, Manager of High Output, a motion picture lighting company in Charleston; Tom Morris, a Construction Coordinator from Sullivan's Island; Geoff Herbert, a feature film and television Key Grip from Greenville; and Todd Stuart, CFO of Mad Monkey, one of South Carolina's leading commercial production companies based in Columbia.

Contact: Cara White, 843.881.1480,
Cara.white@mac. com


Laura said...

It's a shame state government wouldn't even give these incentives a chance. You could see the momentum building, with the increasing number of high profile films being shot here. It's unfortunate, too, that so much work went into this plan only to have it thrown out and dismissed.

Another thought: millions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives are given to large multinational corporations all the time, to encourage them to build factories or stores in South Carolina. I would like to see how much money we NEVER bring into the state's coffers because of tax breaks to exceedingly wealthy companies who are offering lots of low-paying service jobs-- like Wal-Mart.

Heidi Mehltretter said...

You make two excellent points, Laura. I've been pondering the incentives. On one hand, we can think of them like advertising dollars spent to woo clients. On the other, we can look at them as corporate welfare.

The fact remains, other states are competing for these high paying film industry jobs with incentives. And, we have less to offer than many other states in terms of crew depth and studio space, so we really have no choice but to play the incentive game if we want to build our film industry. Not forever, but for a few years at least.

Let's not forget that this job creation industry doesn't negatively impact our environment or force us to build infrastructure like schools and roads. Plus, it's much sexier to portray SC as a beach and movie capital than a nuclear waste dump state.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Remember to contact your local SC state representative and senator.


Anonymous said...

Please add a K after the 64 in the second to last paragraph, and the word before should be than. This is too important to be mis-quoted!

Anonymous said...

OOOps you said MILLION

Heidi Mehltretter said...

I see what you are saying, it is in the press release. My understanding is that the productions that shot in SC last year left 64 million dollars in the state.
I really can not think of another industry that touches so many small businesses.

A film comes in and buys from antique shops, flower shops, hardware stores; uses restaurants, caterers and hotels; rents cars, heavy equipment, office furniture and technical gear; gives people and businesses money to use their homes and offices and parking lots; employs union tradespeople, actors, teachers, translators, police officers, janitors . . . we can make impact lists for hours.

If South Carolina's department of Commerce wants to foster small business (I read that on Joe Taylor's page highlighted on his name above), then I challenge them to find a single other industry we could woo that supports the variety of small businesses film supports.

EdistoCam said...

I don’t understand how or why any aspect of our state government would turn its back on any viable, productive, economic component within our state, but evidently that is what the Department of Commerce under the stewardship of Joe E. Taylor has opted to do to our Motion Picture Industry. That’s too bad. As a South Carolinian by ancestral birthright – around 200 years from European and African forefathers and about 6,000-8,000 from the Native American side, my roots run deep in the Low Country and Midlands soils. I’m also a cinematographer with 39 years in the Motion Picture and Television Industry. Most of my career was out of New York City but I’ve been living and working in South Carolina since ‘96. Approaching my late 60’s, the majority of my work is over, but I’m still passionately concerned with what happens to younger colleagues who have many years of outstanding creative work ahead of them.

It is for that purpose that I implore Mr. Taylor to carefully heed the informed voices of South Carolina’s vibrant film community. Responsible data will prove that the film industry does a great deal for our state and it will do even more if allowed to grow and develop. As stated by fellow contributors herein, many small businesses, as well as major hospitality corporations, prosper significantly from film production throughout South Carolina. Why interfere with such widespread bounty? The economic contributions of in-state film production cannot always be measured by the same criteria routinely used to analyze other industries. With the cinema arts one must use vision, insight and sometimes a little imagination. But most importantly one should rely on real data and not contrived statistics devised to serve other means. Film craftsmen here deserve better than that as do other voting citizens of South Carolina who work in and run small, medium and large size business that most definitely benefit from a busy local film industry. Let’s work together to resolve the incentive and related issues that are so essential to our motion picture industry and pave the way for more film work to come here. That will be the best of all worlds.
Every one of us bears within himself the possibility of all passions, all destinies of life in all its forms. Nothing human is foreign to us. -- Edward G. Robinson – renowned American actor.