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State Leaders Trying to Boost Film Industry in Mississippi

By Daniel Cherry | Published 07 Jul 2011 06:41pm | comments

Economic leaders in Mississippi are pushing to turn the state into a hub for producing films. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports on efforts to make the state a big time destination for filmmakers around the world. 

A Time to Kill and Oh Brother Where Art Thou are just a couple feature films shot in Mississippi. The Help will debut in theaters nationwide in August. It's the latest full length feature made in the state. Ward Emling is the Director of the Mississippi Film Office. He says these movies show the state has what it takes to be a film competitor.

"Whether it's commercial or a documentary or a feature film or television series or whatever. The idea is to create an industry that's ongoing. One thing you can say about the film industry or the film entertainment industry is that it's not going away. It's not going to diminish."

The state has implemented an incentive program which will pay filmmakers back 25 to 30 percent of what they spend in Mississippi. Wes Benton just finished an independent film in Canton. He says that was a big draw for him.

"Being able to come in on a small budget film. Shoot, have the locations you need, the crew you need, in a community that's not jaded toward film. Where people have come in, they're opened their arms. They've allowed us to shoot with our budget."

The incentive levels the playing field for Mississippi among other southern states already offering rebates. JoAnn Gordon is the Executive Director of the Canton Film Office.

"It creates a workforce, and it creates an economic impact to the state. Until we are a viable industry doing it every day, then the film industry will continue to suffer."

State leaders are trying to make sure the industry doesn't suffer. The state film office is holding a film summit Friday in Pearl to explore the future of expanding the industry in Mississippi.

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