In recent years, U.S. cities have gotten creative in their efforts to attract new types of industry, and filmmaking is on the radar of many economic development organizations and community leaders.
Setting up a film commission is one way a city can make itself more film project-friendly. Film commissions offer a variety of services to filmmakers who may be new to the area – such as helping them scout locations, support services and talent; assisting with permitting and marketing; or even offering incentive packages.
Randall Rock, a student in the Digital Cinematography bachelor of science online degree program, recently worked on a city-sponsored film project in his hometown of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with the goal of establishing a film commission there.
Rock was associate producer, director of photography and editor for The Patient, a comedy short that involved more than 100 Harrisburg locals as cast and crew. The project also received support from Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson, Harrisburg city council member Kelly Summerford, and former commissioner of the Pennsylvania Film Association, Lenwood Sloan. Rock was also able to recruit fellow student India Smith-Bussey to work on the film as a 2nd camera operator.
“I volunteered my time and efforts to this short film in order to help the city of Harrisburg establish a local film commission and to help lead the movement to bring together local talent,” said Rock, who spent more than four months working on the film and a mini-documentary about the film, while keeping up with his online classes.
“This project was very important because it showed that collaboration on a large scale was possible for Central Pennsylvania,” he said. “The project was able to unite several industry professionals with a zero budget. This sets the stage for what will be possible when funding supports future projects.”
Rock said the goal of a future film commission would be to unite and bring structure to the film community in central Pennsylvania, eventually making it a competitive film location in the major motion picture industry. Rock said he is hopeful that his hometown will be able to grow its reputation with filmmakers.
“There are areas of the city that can look like just about any city in America aside from the West Coast,” said Rock. “The character of the city will attract filmmakers to Harrisburg.”