by Darren Doyle:
It's a little known fact, but according to recent film directors from networks like the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime Network, Kentucky is tied with Georgia as the least expensive place to film a movie production in the United States.
At the recent introductory meeting regarding the inception of a new local film commission attended by Edmonson County Tourism Director Rhonda Clemmons, the Hart County Fiscal Court discussed the positive impact from recent productions, as movies from the popular cable networks have recently been filmed there.
According to Clemmons, Hart County Judge Executive Terry Martin is leading the charge to encourage more of the film industry to set up shop in Hart and surrounding counties. She said Judge Martin has been a key factor in creating the "South Central Kentucky Film Commission," which will be an organization to promote film production and to incorporate the production process into the local economy.
"The operations of the newly organized SCKYFC include a part-time associate that will recruit film projects and be a clearing house of business resources that are needed to any production company looking to create a film such as: movie extras, electricians, carpenters, beauticians, makeup artists, horse rental, buggy rental, catering, film sites, and a host of other products and services that are also necessary," said Clemmons.
Director Clemmons also said that one local business woman, Janet Dennison of Mammoth Cave Transplants, has already seen some positive influence from the lastest movie filmed in Hart County as she recently rented several plants to be used in the production.
"Film companies arrive in town and they need things like hotels, catering, set builders, extras, and so much more. The new film commission would be the go-to for these companies. They would serve as a directory which would cover all of the counties that have been invited to join."
One of the five surrounding counties invited is Edmonson, but joining would require a $5,000 fee.
"There would not be any guarantee of a return on the $5,000 investment, but Hart County said they have already seen that one film alone brought an impact of $500,000 to their economy," said Clemmons.
Edmonson County Judge Executive Wil Cannon said while EC can't offer as many products and services as Hart and larger counties, he would still be interested in becoming a member if other county organizations would split the costs.
"If the fiscal court, Tourism, Chamber of Commerce, and Industrial Authority can all split the cost by offering $1250 each, it lowers the burden for the county and I think that would be well worth the investment it would take to join," Judge Cannon said.
Director Clemmons said that the KY Film Commission oversees the content of the films and if the script is not approved the films are not considered for state tax incentives. She also said that the Hart County Industrial Authority spoke at the meeting and pledged $200,000 to build a brand new facility that will be the Southern Kentucky Film Commission Building in Munfordville.
Grants are currently being sought for the facility, according to Clemmons.