Thursday, February 4, 2010

Boise Bonanza

Hey. It's alliteration. And I couldn't figure out a rhyme. "Boise Noise?" But then you'd have to put two syllables in "noise."

I just got back from a 2 1/2 day trip to Boise, for film stuff. Conclusion: it was wonderful. Very productive, in ways that I didn't expect. And it made me believe, more than ever, that we absolutely have to convince the film industry that filming in Idaho (with North Idaho as my preferred location) is financially feasible and likely even cheaper than filming in a lot of other places. And you get the added benefit of working in beautiful scenery, with lovely and helpful people.

Where do I send that letter?

The trip started on Monday, with an IFAC meeting. This stands for Idaho Film Advisory Committee. Two of our KNIFVES board members are also on IFAC, with a handful of other people on the committee, representing all Idaho regions - all of whom are very knowledgeable and active in the film industry. Peg Owens, in charge of the state film office, and Diane Norton (also with the office) both were there, as well as other state folks - as was Rep. Eric Anderson, who is an advocate for film in Idaho (and who is on the KNIFVES advisory board, actually). We talked a lot about the incentives program - how filming in Idaho can be cheaper than elsewhere - how one budget was cut back by $400,000 in a 45-minute read-through if the film company filmed in Idaho, but the company ended up going with the more razzle-dazzle of a different state because the state could offer the highlighted word "incentives" in a big neon sign.... We talked about amending the incentives law to become reciprocal with Washington and Oregon (we've heard that WA and OR already are reciprocal with each other, and trying to track down that information) and we talked about ensuring that the law allows for private funding of the incentives program, if a company so desired to make that kind of investment. So, all very informative and creative.

(Explanation: Idaho has a tax rebate program and also an incentives program, but does not have the incentives program funded currently...)

There were also presentations. The one that STANDS OUT is the Silverdraft Studios presentation. Amongst a myriad of other things, this group is putting together a "rendering farm truck" - which, as I understand it, is the first of its kind, and will be a portable unit - in an actual truck - that will allow for things like green screening and other computerized film opportunities. So impressive! Put together by top notch people, it seemed. From their website: "Current film projects include 'Buhl, Idaho' produced by Heather Rae, 'King Lear' starring Al Pacino, and 'Fault Line' starring Olympia Dukakis." Sandra Cavanaugh - the woman giving the presentation - was very clear as well, another point in their favor. And they also were clear about housing the project in Boise. In fact, they keep bringing up talent from California to Idaho to manifest the project into reality. They're in the "seek funding" stage.

I started thinking: if the Silverdraft Studios people got their funding, they should consider asking their funder to also contribute funds the Northwest Film Institute, being put together by some colleagues of mine up in Sandpoint. See, here's my point: NFI will be producing film workers in Idaho for Idaho projects. As Silverdraft got off the ground, simultaneously people enthused about Idaho could be receiving specified training up north, and ultimately there would be a dovetailing of the talent and the work - all with perfect timing. Right?

And that was just Monday.

On Tuesday, we had "Media Day" on the fourth floor of the State Capitol, which is a gorgeous building, in and of itself. The best part of that day was all the networking we did. I met other screenwriters (we stayed in the home of a generous screenwriting family, in fact), as well as film guys. Bex Wilkinson - on IFAC, sponsoring the Family of Woman Film Festival at the end of this month - sat with me, talked about my projects, offered to let me stay with her place for the festival (if I can make it - am going to try - if nothing else the festival looks compelling), and had some thoughts about how to network me overall. (Bex also was a founder of the spiritual film festival, that I attended in September last year.) Ben Shedd, of Shedd Productions - on the original task force that ultimately set up IFAC, and an Oscar winning documentary filmmaker - likely will end up speaking at a KNIFVES meeting soon. And more and more. And all generated because of the networking in Boise.

And then - the crowning glory - there was a movie premiere that night of a documentary called "After the Storm," produced by the Priddy brothers (in Boise), and directed by Hilla Medalia (she was there too), about a group of theater guys who came to New Orleans after the storm of Hurricane Katrina to put together a theater performance of the Broadway musical "Once On This Island" by recruiting young talent living in New Orleans. Their goal: to encourage hope and talent in these youngsters. It's such a touching story, so well told - like a feature film in the story arcs, in fact.... Here's the New York Times review of it. I so applaud the Priddy brothers for taking on this project, and others, and who are quite enthusiastic in general. In fact, I saw Jody Lee - the creator of "Rivers in the Desert," a film I saw in Couer d'Alene last fall (about moving the Jewish temple in Boise from location to the other, and the stories intertwined) - and told her she had to talk to the Priddys. They would love her documentary. She's a great talent, right there in their midst. They should all talk to each other.

And then- then! - a woman named Carol Trusz, who is in the photo below and who is on the board of Northwest Film Institute in Sandpoint, came up with this idea - "Idaho Pitch" - to bring in movie makers who will then have folks up here pitch the story ideas they have - feature film, documentary, and otherwise - and we will organize a tour for the movie people of potential film locations as well, all of this coordinated through the Idaho Film office and Peg Owens... It's all in the works. Apparently I'm now on the subcommittee to make that happen. !!

Each of all the above deserves its own blog entry, actually. But if I did that, I'd be writing for a zillion years. In the meantime, I've provided links. (And I will, in the near future, write more specifically about the benefits of filming in Idaho.) Each of above is creating something special - and all of them together create a network of opportunity and evolution that puts Idaho in wonderful competition with the rest of the country, and world.

And then here were the KNIFVES members who were there for Media Day:

In order of appearance: WJ Lazerus (our KNIFVES president, owner of Lazerus Communications and film guy extraordinaire); Kerri Thoreson (writer, columnist, on the Post Falls, Idaho city council, and a member of KNIFVES); T. Dawn Richard (author of the May List mystery books, screenwriter, and KNIFVES Vice President); Mitchell Fullerton (great film guy, board member of Northwest Film Institute, member of KNIFVES through NFI); Carol Trusz (mentioned above - screenwriter, marketer, "amazing idea" person and also member of KNIFVES through NFI); me; and Russ Simons, former marketing guy with Disney, and absolutely determined now to get KNIFVES grants and other funding so we can open a regional film office in North Idaho.

What a motley crew we were.

No comments: