NWA, central Arkansas partner on film alliance

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 130 views 

Arkansas’ two largest metro areas announced Tuesday (May 29) a partnership with the Arkansas Film Commission to create the Arkansas Production Alliance — an effort to recruit and retain a “competitive film and digital content production industry in Arkansas.”

Branded as “arfilm,” the Alliance was announced in Little Rock by Martin Rhodes, chairman of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce; Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission; Christopher Crane, director of the Arkansas Film Commissioner; Mike Malone, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council; and Elizabeth Small, president of Fifty for the Future.

The Alliance’s website will allow all property owners, community, chamber, visitors bureau, county and region in Arkansas to submit, maintain and market locations to the production industry. Submitted Arkansas locations will now also be a part of a global database powered by Reel-Scout, a content management system used by the film industry.

“For the first time in Arkansas’s history, qualified resident crew and ex-patriots will have the opportunity submit and update their contact information, credits and resumes for consideration by productions shooting in Arkansas,” noted the press release.

Malone said the Alliance is the “first fruit” of the historic, two-day meeting of leaders of Central and Northwest Arkansas hosted in Fayetteville in February of this year. Another gathering is being set for Little Rock later this year.

About 110 businessmen and leaders from central and Northwest Arkansas gathered Feb. 16 at the University of Arkansas to talk about plans to work together to improve Arkansas’ economy.

“With this single effort, we’ve demonstrated that our regions can partner in building an important, but largely overlooked industry,” Malone noted in the statement. “Just imagine the possibilities when we turn our collective sites to other pressing needs of our state such as economic development, education, transportation and infrastructure.”

Reel-Scout President & CEO Ed Henegar said the Alliance could help Arkansas be a bigger player in the film industry.

“The Alliance’s turnaround time in creating a unified, statewide, site locations, crew and support database powered by Reel-Scout was one of the fastest in our company’s history and puts Arkansas well on its way to becoming a major destination for film and digital content development,” Henegar said.

Tennille said the regional cooperation is the state’s quickest path to success.

“Today, marketing isn’t about 30-second commercials. It’s about product placement,” said Tennille. “The film and digital production industry offers Arkansas product placement in perpetuity. Just as the Northwest Arkansas and Metro Little Rock regions have demonstrated that they can work together, so too can the AEDC, Parks and Tourism, Game and Fish and every other state and local agency that has a vested interest in marketing all that our state and communities have to offer.”

Rhodes said the Alliance is a logical extension of how the chamber’s Little Rock Film Commission has worked.

“Our efforts have always been in lock-step with the state,” Rhodes said. “Five years ago, Arkansas was simply not in the production game. We were one of two states without production incentives. … Today, we have modest, but competitive incentives, we’re growing our crew base with expanded training at Southern Arkansas University Tech, Pulaski Technical College, University of Central Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and thanks to our partners in Northwest Arkansas, we now have the most powerful locations, crew and support content management system in the business.”

“Piggott’s A Face in the Crowd, Fort Smith’s A Soldier’s Story, Fouke’s Legend of Boggy Creek, Benton’s Sling Blade – Arkansas’s past is rich in cinematic history,” said Crane. “In 1929, Hallelujah – Director King Vidor’s first talking picture and the first Hollywood film with an exclusively African-American cast, was partially shot just outside of West Memphis. This past fall, Arkansas’s own Jeff Nichols’ wrapped Mud, the largest production to ever shoot in Arkansas.”

Continuing, Crane noted: “The Arkansas Production Alliance’s arfilm logo will make its debut in the closing credits of Mud, as the unified brand for our state’s film economic development. Our intention is that it is just the first of many, many more.”