San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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October 7th, 2008
Hollywood in the Hill Country

San Marcos may become the location for a Hollywood film. That’s what some Central Texas community leaders are hoping for after attending a workshop at the San Marcos Activity Center last week called “When Hollywood Comes To Town.”The Texas Film Commission has initiated a program called Film Friendly Texas. In conjunction with the non-profit Texas Leadership Institute, their goal is to promote the idea that Texas communities should open their arms to Hollywood film production crews.

“When a filmmaker comes knocking, everybody wins,” said Carol Pirie, Deputy Director of the Texas Film Commission.

Her meaning is simple; when they arrive in town they have quite the spending budget. The crews have to eat, they need lodging, building supplies, etc.

Via the Texas Film Commission, a community can become a certified Film Friendly Texas district. This tells a Hollywood producer that they are acquainted with movie industry procedures and that there are trained technical crews in the area. It is also free press from the Film Commission. In addition, the State offers a 5% cash-back incentive program for filmmakers.

The workshop held in town last week informed some well-intentioned citizens about how a community such as San Marcos can attract the film business. Topics included how to understand the movie scouting process, what to do and what happens if a production company does choose your city as the setting of their next film, as well as the technicalities regarding insurance, use of public properties and business of that nature.

“These programs are aimed at helping to improve the knowledge and community & economic development educational skills of our local elected public officials, community volunteers, business & community leaders in our rural communities,” said Ray Alvarez, Executive Director of the Texas Leadership Institute.

Basically, the goal is to improve economic development in Texas.

One person in attendance at the workshop was Newstreamz’s part owner and Publisher, Scott Gregson. He felt that the information given at the workshop was important and insightful.

“Film and commercial production brings new people to town typically with money to spend in our community during their visit. Smithville has hosted several movies; the most recent starring Brad Pitt and Bastrop hosted a movie starring Julia Roberts.  We heard people from each of these communities who were directly involved talk about the positive experience it not only had for the city as a whole but also the positive economic benefit.  They now use the notoriety from these movie productions having been in their city as another way to attract tourism,” said Gregson.

Many films have been shot in Texas, including Terms of Endearment, Dazed and Confused, Office Space, and Spy Kids.

Although the country is in a significant economic downtrend, the film business has not suffered the same fate. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the industry earned a record $9.62 billion last year.

by: Mary Dichard

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