By Jessica Wettig
The Southern Illinois Film Commission has been working to bring some stardom to the area.
Commission organizer Jon Musgrave said they were established in August, and they’re still working on the paperwork. That hasn’t kept them from staying busy.
Musgrave attended a symposium in Los Angeles to discuss exactly what productions, such as Netflix, are looking for. Congested sites, such as Georgiaand Los Angeles, are packed with projects, so producers are looking at other options.
So, the Film Commission has been investigating some major questions, like: What does it take to get a show on Netflix? Hulu? Other streaming platforms? The search still continues while figuring out exactly what these productions are looking for.
In Los Angeles, Musgrave said a producer said he looks for three things: Infrastructure, incentives and personnel.
It’s not just about the scenery, either, since Illinois offers incentives for filmmakers many states do not. The state offers a 30 percent tax credit, and an additional 15 percent to those who meet earning qualifications and are located in a distressed area–which much of Southern Illinois qualifies for.
Musgrave has had several productions that have planned to film in the area in the past year or so. Many things can happen to stall filming, or to cause a loss in budget that might eliminate the project altogether.
The film Range Runners was filmed last June, and is currently awaiting distribution. It is one film that has producers involved from larger projects, such as Chicago PD.
There’s a handful of productions that are likely to go through as planned right now. Some will come out this year and some next year.
Film productions like Gone Girl, which was filmed in areas like Cape Girardeau and Giant City, are major films that don’t require much from the people in the region because the professionals have what they’re doing down pat. So, these films contribute to the economy when they use local lodging, purchase food locally and other transactions.
“When they come in, they’re going to spend money,” Musgrave said.
It’s not just about the people who come from other areas, either. Musgrave said he has been amazed at the amount of filmmakers and talent located right here in Southern Illinois.
One filmmaker, Jonathan Bridges, plans to start filming a series this spring in addition to other projects.
The work to grow the film industry in the area is ongoing and the goal is to keep growing.