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Live From Sundance: The 411/PGA Webinar

M. Galas


Festival-goers traveling along Park City’s Main Street were rewarded with a special opportunity on Monday, January 25th.  That morning, 411 Publishing, along with the Producers Guild of America and Entertainment Partners, held the fourth in a series of production incentive webinars at the site of The New York Lounge.  In attendance were not only film commissioners but also the producers of four of Sundance’s most buzz-worthy dramatic features.  While the panel spoke to a standing-room only crowd, their conversation was simultaneously webcast to 500 participating registrants.

“Live From Sundance: Practical Considerations and Conversations with Film Commissioners and Filmmakers Regarding Accessing Film Incentives” was a presentation geared towards providing valuable state incentives information mixed with the practical experience of producers who utilized the incentives on their productions.  Participating on this panel were Marshall Moore, Director, Utah Film Commission, Tim Williams, Executive Producer, “Frozen,” Pat Kaufman, Executive Director, New York State Film Office, George Paaswell, Co-Producer, “Jack Goes Boating,” Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director, Greater Philadelphia Film Office, Ronald Simons, Actor/Producer of “Night Catches Us,” Jill Simpson, director, Oklahoma Film Office and “The Killer Inside Me” producers: Jordan Gertner, Chris Hanley, and Chad Burris.

Moore and Williams kicked of the presentation with a discussion of filming in Utah.   When asked about the benefits of shooting his thriller “Frozen,” a story about young college students stuck on a chairlift, in the mountains of Utah, Williams stated the talented crew base in the area in addition to the financial benefits the tax credits supplied made Utah his first choice.

“The local crew base was a great asset,” said Williams.  “They are used to working in those types of conditions, and they really helped keep our production on schedule.”

Paaswell, himself a New York resident, declared that no other location could match the benefits of shooting in New York.

“New York just lends itself to indie productions,” said Paaswell.  “You have the crew base, the facilities, the equipment, everything you need.  You have great locations that you can’t find in Vancouver or Toronto or anywhere else.  There really was no other location for us.”

“Night Catches Us” was set in the 1970s.  Simons and his production team found Philadelphia’s Germantown had a great retro feel that was a perfect stand in for their period piece.

“Philadelphia has so many kinds of neighborhoods” said Simons.  “We were working with such a limited budget.  Germantown offered us an assortment of creature comforts as well a store and building fronts that didn’t require a lot of changes for our shoot.”

While shooting in Oklahoma, the production team of “The Killer Inside Me” found that the film commission staff provided help and assistance every step of the way.  In addition to the support of the staff, Hanley felt the young crew base offered a great benefit to a visiting production.

“There’s a young community of filmmakers and crew that’s excited to do a good job and to learn,” said Hanley.  “We worked much faster with this crew base: they may be without a lot of experience, but they are raring to go!”

The complete presentation lasted one hour and ten minutes.  In addition to the discussion between moderator Joe Chianese, Vice President of Business Development and Production Planning at Entertainment Partners and the ten other panelists, slides containing incentive highlights, film commission contact information and production stills from the featured films were presented.  The complete presentation is available now in the 411 Production Webinar Archives.

To access the “Live From Sundance” and all previous 411 webinars, please visit: