Founded in 1985 by joint City/County resolution, The Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission is the official City/County economic development agency for film and television. The Commission is not an arts agency --nor is it a trade association. Rather, the Commission Office works primarily to assist and/or recruit funded projects which will economically impact multiple sectors of the local community—local hires, local vendors, etc. Although some client projects have minimal economic impact, they are valued nonetheless for their tourism and/or artistic value. Or, a project may be valued simply for the training opportunities it provides to emerging filmmakers. Funding requirements dictate, however, that the work of The Commission Office results in substantial, documented economic impact to the City and County. An annual report listing Commission clients and each’s direct spend and number of local hires is presented to City and County funders each fiscal year.
The nerve center of The Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission is the Commission Office at 496 South Main Street in downtown Memphis. There, two long-time professional staff members, called “film commissioners,” work “hands-on” recruiting and assisting productions. Although initially professional hires, Film Commissioner Linn Sitler and Deputy Film Commissioner/Project Specialist Sharon Fox are now appointed by the City Mayor and the County Mayor. Both hold degrees in production. Sitler is one of only 51 film commissioners in the world to attain certification by the Association of Film Commissioners International. Both Sitler and O’Guin update their professional credentials annually at Cineposium, an educational conference for film commissioners.
The Commission is fortunate to have “on-call” as legal advisers not one, but three highly qualified attorneys. Joseph Leibovich, Esquire, represents The Shelby County Attorney's Office. Leibovich advises the staff and board on internal and production matters, including County permits and filming on County-owned property. Cheryl Hearn, Esquire, represents The City Attorney's Office. Hearn approves filming on City property and serves as City Government’s representative in Commission legal matters, including the various City film permits.
The Commission's 22-member advisory board members serve by appointment only - half are appointed by The Mayor of Memphis and half by The Mayor of Shelby County.
The Commission Board's activities are governed by strict City/County conflict-of-interest policies. Although recruitment is a staff activity, Board members serve as valuable advisors to the staff and ambassadors to the community.
The entire Commission Board of Directors meets every other month to review Commission internal affairs and receive production updates. An Executive Committee of current officers and past chairmen also meets with the staff.
The entire Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Board of Directors includes citizens from impressive and very diverse backgrounds: production, medicine, dentistry, law, corporate communications, education, music, writing, film exhibition, choreography, theatre, fashion, and economic development. The individual board members' names and board positions are as follows:
Chairman: Gale Jones Carson
Vice-Chairman: Alicia Boldreghini George
Treasurer: Dr. Susan Murrmann
Secretary: Fabian Matthews
Chairman, Budget & Finance: Dr. O’Farrell Shoemaker
Chairman Emeritus: Donna Darwin (Ex-Officio)
Chairman Emeritus: Dr. Richard Ranta
Chairman Emeritus: Knox Phillips (Ex-Officio)
Chairman Emeritus: Calvin Miller (Ex-Officio)
Chairman Emeritus: James "Jimmy" Tashie
Chairman Emeritus: Blanchard E. Tual, Esquire (Ex-Officio)
Chairman Emeritus: David Porter (Ex-Officio)
Morgan Jon Fox
Pamela WIlliams Kelly, Esquire
Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell
Steven J. Ross
Uday Kumar Sripathi
Pat Kerr Tigrett