Lights, Camera, Action: Spotlight Shines on Tennessee’s Growing Film and Television Industry | Business

Look for a lot more lights, cameras and action over the next decade as Tennessee’s evolving film and television industry approaches a pivotal era of unprecedented growth.

That’s the word of Bob Raines, executive director of the Tennessee Entertainment Commission.

Speaking at a recent “Create It In Tennessee” panel session at the Nashville Film Festival, Raines hinted at major developments “on the horizon” and over the next decade.

“The data shows that we are forecasting growth in the film or film and video production sectors here of about 12% to 15% over the next five years,” Raines said on the video call. “So we have impressive growth ahead of us.

“I will also say that we have infrastructure development projects on the horizon… studios in particular, as real estate has become extremely important (especially in Nashville) and a lot of people we are talking to right now want to build that infrastructure here. in our state.

“When you look at our condition, I want you to think of our condition as a plinth. We are a base of talent; we are a base of skilled labor. … It’s going to be solid and grow here for the next 10 years and beyond.

Contacted Wednesday, Raines made his remarks.

“We are in several conversations. There isn’t really a specific company or project, but there are a few that are currently evolving. And these come from Memphis and also from Nashville, ”said Raines, who operates from the governor’s office of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

“Our workforce continues to grow. As our services continue to develop things like studios or campuses… maybe there is a media campus versus studios where, here in our state, we have the capacity to formulate multi-purpose campuses. And I think that’s what’s unique, whether it’s a movie and TV studio or a musical rehearsal.

“We’re looking at a wide range of entertainment and media here, so like I said, a lot of these conversations about how we’re building the infrastructure, where it’s going to be, what it’s going to look like, where it’s going to be like State is investing, how much should be invested from the private sector – all of these conversations continue to be going on,

“We hope to see more poles come out of the ground very soon. We are in talks with several different companies on infrastructure development that will certainly have a significant impact on our industry here. “

This is good news for filmmakers and industry executives in the state who have relied on the state’s incentive program to make their plans come true.

“It’s always great to hear that things are going to keep growing – which will allow us to shoot more and more,” said Shannon Houchins, CEO of Nashville’s Hideout Pictures and producer of the company’s latest new western, ” Old Henry, ”which premiered on October 1 after a successful Venice Film Festival debut and will be available via Video On Demand from October 8.

Filmed in Watertown in January, “Old Henry” was written and directed by Potsy Ponciroli and stars Tim Blake Nelson, Scott Haze and Gavin Lewis with Trace Adkins and Stephen Dorff. It was produced in partnership with Shout Studios, the first of a three-film Western deal for the companies. Houchins said Hideout Pictures, a subsidiary of Average Joes Entertainment, will next shoot an untitled children’s horror story in November and then begin work on “Hardin,” the second in the Western trilogy.

“We made our first film here in, for example, 2011. The (state entertainment commission) has supported us overwhelmingly since then. The plan has always been for Tennessee-based Hideout Pictures to shoot in Tennessee as much as possible – obviously, not just because we live here and like to sleep in our beds, ”Houchins said with a laugh.

“We just have a great crew base and there are a lot of great people here who we love to work with. And just the state is a beautiful state. So there is a lot to film here. It’s great that the state has always supported everything we do and everything the other filmmakers in the state do as well. “

Curt Hahn, CEO of Film House and director / co-producer of the 2012 film “Deadline”, explained the challenges state filmmakers have faced in the past and why he is cautiously optimistic about the future.

“The major challenge for the film industry in the state of Tennessee is the fact that we have 95 counties and only a handful of those counties have a strong interest in the film industry,” said Hahn, whose experience World War I immersive for the National Museum of the United States Army recently opened in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

“And since the vast majority of the state doesn’t see much direct benefit from the film industry, we’re unlikely to ever have strong film incentives like Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico and so many other states.

“It’s hard to argue with the math because you can do a big project and receive hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions of dollars in incentives from, say, Georgia to film in their state,” said Hahn, who was not among the NFF panelists.

“People who put in money are going to make a very easy decision (and) say, ‘We can do the same movie in Memphis or Nashville or we could shoot it in Atlanta and how much are we going to save? ‘And that’s the challenge we’ll always have in Tennessee.

Hahn’s optimism for the future of Nashville cinema is based on what he knows. He said he was not authorized to release details, but expects a major announcement to be made later this year.

“There is one project that contradicts what I just said about not getting big plans here,” Hahn said. “This particular project would be a game changer and I suspect it will come to fruition and will be announced later this year, before the first of the year.

“And while it will benefit from state incentives, it is not just dependent on state incentives as is the case with the typical project. And therefore, it could be done here. And I believe it will be done here.

“This will be the biggest economic development announcement in the film industry in probably the 45 years I’ve lived in Nashville.”

Inspirational community and amazing ‘

Sarah Kunin, a three-time Emmy-winning television producer and Edward R. Murrow with nearly 15 years of experience before moving here in 2018 as the unscripted development manager for Riverside Entertainment, believes the industry Nashville film / television should target the stars.

She did so, selling Chip and Joanna Gaines’ DIY show “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home” to the Magnolia Network which airs on Discovery +.

“To be completely honest with you, I had pretty low expectations. I didn’t think I was going to be able to continue working in production like I did in New York as the supervising producer at ‘Good Morning America. ”And I’ll tell you the last three years have been by far the most successful of my 15 years in this industry,” the NFF panelist said.

“So over the past year we’ve been in production throughout the pandemic, using all of the local teams,” Kunin added. “It’s so amazing and inspiring to see how this community has truly been able to put on an amazing show to match anything you would see in New York or Los Angeles.

“So yeah, I’ve really enjoyed my time in Nashville so far. And while working at Riverside, we continue to develop other scripted and unscripted projects. We’ve had a lot of success so it’s been a great time to be in the production industry here.

‘We can offer everything except an ocean ‘

Chris Conner, also a producer for Hideout Pictures (including the CMT sitcom “Still the King” with Billy Ray Cyrus and the movie “Howard’s Mill”), says the state has a lot to offer both in terms of incentive and filming.

“First of all, our state got an incentive program and the fact that Bob and his office are so helpful has changed a lot of things,” Conner said. “We were able to bring television production and film production here. I mean, it’s always been there, there’s no doubt about it, ”said Conner, an assistant producer on the set of“ Old Henry ”.

“But being competitive with other states helps a lot when you’re talking to a network or a studio. The result is important – like everyone else – and having these funds is very useful. “

Raines touted the state’s natural beauty as a major reason for filming in Tennessee.

“We have a diverse topography here. We can offer everything except an ocean. I mean, that’s pretty much the gist. Other than that, no. We can offer people everything from cityscapes to rural areas, modern and historic. There is really nothing, ”he said.

Conner pointed to the state’s quality of life factor as the reason so many cast and crew chose to move here after filming in Tennessee. This was certainly the case when the TV show “Nashville” (2012-18) was filmed here. Many of those cast and crew still reside here.

“One of the great things is that every time a big production series is shot here, what I notice is that it usually draws people here,” Conner said.

“And because I think the quality of life in our state is so high, we are holding back people that we normally wouldn’t be able to … people who realize,” Wow, I can buy a house and tax on it. income and all the different things that make it attractive for people to move in here, I think we keep a lot of these people that way and it’s great.

Vibrant culture and creative energy

This is part of the reason why three-time Emmy Award-winning actress Patricia Heaton is reportedly planning to film an untitled sitcom serial script here for Fox.

At the end of July, “Deadline” announced that the project will be produced by Fox Entertainment and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment and that Heaton and David Hunt “will produce under their FourBoys Entertainment banner with Adam Griffin as well as Kaplan and Michael Lohmann for Kapital Entertainment. Abbott is the head of Kapital, “the story said. No date has been given for the start of the project.

Heaton could not be reached for an update on the project, but told “Deadline” that she was excited about filming in Nashville, where she has family and a residence.

“I am looking forward to working with Fox on this series,” Heaton said. “I have come to know and love Nashville over the years by visiting my son and sister there. It is a wonderful city with an incredible quality of life, with a vibrant culture and so much creative energy.

“I want to help sustain and grow the entertainment production business there and filming a TV series in Nashville would provide hundreds of jobs for local cast and crew.”

Tennesséens can therefore expect a lot more lights, cameras and action in the near future.

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