Gadsden-Etowah Film Office aims to lure productions; here's how local businesses can help

·3 min read
The Gadsden-Etowah Film Office hopes to bring movie cameras such as this one to the Gadsden area. The nonprofit is hosting an orientation meeting at Aug. 17 to provide more information.
The Gadsden-Etowah Film Office hopes to bring movie cameras such as this one to the Gadsden area. The nonprofit is hosting an orientation meeting at Aug. 17 to provide more information.

John Brown and Charles Evans are excited about the prospect of bringing film productions to the Gadsden area — enough so that they've formed the non-profit Gadsden-Etowah Film Office — and they want to gauge how much interest there is in the rest of the community.

They've organized a "orientation session" at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at Back Forty Beer, Brown said, to give local businesses and individuals a chance to learn more about how they can help in attracting filmmakers to the area.

Brown and Evans have been working with Adam Engelhard of Mailroom Productions, who works as a liaison in bringing big-budget productions to areas like Columbus, Georgia.

Engelhard said he worked with the Columbus Film Commission and the Center for Economic Development to bring productions to the city, including the recent John Travolta film “Cash Out." and the 2020 Bruce Willis movie "Survive the Night."

Brown and Evans are film fans, and both have worked in some productions in Georgia as background actors.

Evans owns a number of military vehicles he's rented to film productions — something that whetted his interest in the movie business.

Brown said they see the potential for productions in Gadsden that would bring business to the area and give the area exposure anywhere a film is screened.

It's something Brown's had in mind since he saw the 2006 feature "Failure to Launch," which filmed scenes at what used to be Runt's, now the home of Downtown Gadsden Inc. and the Gadsden Commercial Development Authority.

Since then, the closest production has been the Netflix film "The Devil All the Time," which filmed scenes in Jacksonville, Anniston and other Alabama locations. In recent years a number of productions filmed in the Birmingham area, in Montgomery, Mobile and Fairhope.

According to the Alabama Film Office, three registered productions have filmed in Alabama so far this year, and there were four in 2021.

Brown said the Gadsden-Etowah Film Office is registered with the state film office, and he's been a registered lobbyist for the last two years, meeting with House and Senate members to try to spur interest.

Engelhard describes the effort he would engage in for the Gadsden area as a "regional uplift incentive program."

He said he's excited about meeting with interested locals Aug. 17 to explain more about what he and Brown envision .

Brown said the film office is seeking pledges to invest in bringing films to the area — to pay the expenses for Engelhard to go to meet with producers, for example. He said they have set a threshold of $750,000. If they can raise that amount of money, he said, it will signal sufficient interest in this form of economic development to proceed.

If not, Brown said, maybe this isn't something that will work for the Gadsden area. If that proves to be the case, he said, any pledges made would be returned.

Gadsden-Etowah Film Office is a 501(c)3 non-profit, he said, so some donations would be tax deductible — something Engelhard will explain for interested parties Aug. 17.

Bringing film productions of any kind to the area can provide a plethora of economic benefits, including hotel rooms, catering, location rentals, security jobs and more.

Brown hopes with the meeting to measure the level of interest, to know how to continue the effort to bring film business to the area — whether to work to bring large productions to the Gadsden region, or to instead alert the state film office that the area is better suited to low-budget, independent films only.

For more information on the Gadsden-Etowah Film Office, contact Evans at 256-557-1146 or Engelhard at adam@mailroomla.com or 770-883-6774, to provide more information.

Contact Gadsden Times reporter Donna Thornton at 256-393-3284 or donna.thornton@gadsdentimes.com.

This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Gadsden-Etowah Film Office to hold orientation meeting Aug. 17