On the state Film Commission
No, Chicken Little, the sky is not falling. Unconfirmed reports are saying the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission will become an official part of state government's most powerful economic development engine — the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. If it turns out to be the case, this, in fact, would be a good thing. It's finally an acknowledgement of our industry's importance as an economic force and properly deserving of the oversight of economic development professionals.
The Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission has long enjoyed the guidance of such professionals from both the private sector and local government.
Below is an email sent out by Jan Austin, Executive Director/Founder of the Association for the Future of Film and Television, Tennessee's only statewide association for film and television. (Go here to find out more about AFFT.)
— Linn Sitler, Commissioner, Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission
Rumors (and that's all they are!) abound that the state film commission has been demolished, that the position of Executive Director of The Tennessee Film, Entertainment & Music Commission has been forever eliminated, and that life is over for the state's film and television industry.
It is true that Perry Gibson has resigned, but those of you who have been around for years have certainly seen the revolving political door at this level many times and so it should come as very little surprise that a Bredesen appointee is not being retained by the new administration.
The move to put the film commission under the purview of the Department of Economic & Community Development (ECD), however, may be the brightest note for the film commission in years. The stability that the industry has wanted for the Commission will be found within ECD. The law that created the film commission housed it within the Governor's office but directed ECD to provide administrative services for it. That arrangement left the film commission in a "no man's land" situation. The Governor's office has rarely had the time (or interest) to commit to the Commission and the Commissioner of ECD was not obligated to advocate for it.
After an exhaustive study of ECD and the film commission by Governor Haslam's administration, the decision was made to pull the commission into ECD as one of its various departments instead of leaving it in the "no man's land" with little assistance from anyone. The highly competent TFEMC staff of Nathan Lux, Gisela Moore and Bob Raines will make the transition into ECD immediately and the position of Director, in general, is still being evaluated.
Governor Haslam has assured us that he is not going to abandon our industry. This may very well be the first step in keeping that promise. ECD, a very powerful force in state government, will offer a safe haven for the film commission and will become an active ally on its behalf. That, in itself, is good news for the future of our industry.
— Jan Austin