Members of Arizona’s film and television community are joining forces with Arizona businesses that benefit from movies, TV shows and commercials in an effort to bring back the Arizona State Film Office.
Fall signals the start of the production season, and the goal of the Arizona Production Association, (APA) and the Arizona Film & Media Coalition (AFMC) is to send 4,000 letters this month to Gov. Doug Ducey, asking him to make the decision to bring back the Arizona Film Office by executive order.
According to a 2014 Arizona State University “State of the Celluloid” thesis, Arizona had a dedicated Motion Picture Development Program (MPDP) by 1940, but the bulk of the MPDP’s activity started in the 1960s during the governorship of Jack Williams. It remained for the next several decades, helping bring millions of dollars of work and related economic benefits to Arizona.
“While on location, film, TV and commercial productions spend the vast majority of their location budgets with local companies, local locations and local hires,” says Arizona Film & Media Coalition (AFMC) President Mike Kucharo, a long-time Arizona film producer and director.
Arizona has more than 100 years of history in the film and television industry and some 1,600 feature films and numerous television shows, commercials and photo magazines have been produced in the Grand Canyon State. Those productions have provided countless jobs for many Arizonans, which have benefited the State of Arizona economically, culturally, financially and socially.
But the film office was closed in 2009 during the economic downturn, and the state has had no representation since.
“When industry executives call, ready to spend money in Arizona, no one answers the phone,” explains Randy Murray, owner of Randy Murray Productions and a past president of the APA. “As far as they can tell, Arizona is closed for business!”
The Arizona Film Office would serve within the governor’s office and lead the marketing of Arizona to film and related industries. Film office personnel would facilitate production in the state by granting location permits, helping to secure locations and cutting through red tape for production companies.
The film office staff would serve as liaisons between the private and many public sector entities such as state parks, highways, cities and counties without film offices to protect the state’s assets. This incorporates coordinating, monitoring and tracking economic impacts of the film industry to the state, which includes hotel room nights, vehicle rentals, food from restaurants and grocery stores, plus job days, production days and other direct spending. State film office personnel would also advise the governor on film and communication issues.
Other benefits of having an Arizona Film Office include:
- Films, television, photo shoots and commercials are some of the very best ways to promote and market Arizona to the world. A successful film or TV series has proven to promote tourism and can even create new tourist attractions.
- The production industry wants to spend money in Arizona. Arizona’s proximity to Los Angeles and the vast diversity in the state’s locations, quality crews and talent makes Arizona a highly desirable place to film.
- Bringing back the Film Office is “pro-business.” More production means more small businesses will prosper and there will be more high-wage jobs.
- The film and TV production industry brings millions of dollars to the state coffers. While on location, film, TV and commercial productions spend the vast majority of their location budgets by hiring local production personnel and purchasing from local businesses.
- The Film Office is good for the whole state. The film industry is an economic engine that impacts urban and rural communities all over the state as well as many non-film related industries, such as tourism, construction and retail.
- The film industry is recession proof. Even in a down economy, film, TV and commercial production continues.
- Arizona should be open for business. Without a state film office, studios and production companies overlook Arizona and spend their money in other states.
- A number of Arizona universities and community colleges have world-class film schools. More production work in Arizona means our students would have access to internships, jobs and vital connections to industry professionals. Our best and brightest may not have to leave the state to pursue careers.
Elected officers in APA and AFMC will follow-up with Gov. Ducey’s staff to help facilitate the reinstatement of the Arizona Film Office.