Film, music industries investing more in Oklahoma Film, music industries investing more in Oklahoma

Published: Friday, November 15, 2019 By: Steve Metzer Source: The Journal Record

It might be said that the film industry is a rising star in Oklahoma. The state has been the site of filming for more than 30 movies and television shows in 2019 alone.

The music industry also is a star player in Oklahoma, producing legendary performers ranging from Woody Guthrie to Reba McEntire to Garth Brooks.

But when it comes to building the Sooner State’s entertainment industry, the show is only just beginning to get good, as far as Tava Sofsky and others are concerned. That’s why Sofsky, who is director of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office, and others like Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and Jennifer Loren, who played a key role in creating a new Cherokee Nation Film Office, joined forces to make the first-ever Oklahoma Film and Music Conference a hit this week.

The conference, which started Thursday and will continue through Friday staged at the Devon Energy Center in Oklahoma City, has drawn hundreds of entertainment industry professionals ranging from movie producers to music composers and including professionals from casting agents to accountants. The goal, according to organizers, is to “deepen the bench” of Oklahomans ready to step up when projects are introduced in the state. Numerous breakout sessions were planned on topics ranging from screenwriting to scoring symphonies.

“The opportunities are endless in Oklahoma right now,” Sofsky said. “We know that people are coming, and even though we don’t have that (deep film industry bench) yet, we realize that it is show time, and we’re working on that.”

Sofsky noted that the Oklahoma Legislature has acted to make $64 million available in incentives to production companies over the next eight years. Such incentives offered in the form of rebates on production dollars spent in the state already have attracted numerous films and TV productions. One of the latest is a yet-to-be-titled movie starring Matt Damon. One of its producers, Jonathan King, joined Sofsky Thursday in a discussion of “Why Industry Power Players are Choosing Oklahoma.” He said authenticity is incredibly important. If a story, such as the one Damon is starring in, is supposed to occur in Oklahoma, it’s important to try to film in Oklahoma.

“But it has to be financially attractive as well, and the incentive program, thanks to the state of Oklahoma, really was helpful in allowing us to choose to come here,” he said.

King said there are well-qualified film industry professionals in Oklahoma, but their numbers aren’t large enough yet to support many major productions. He suggested that state lawmakers might consider extending rebates to partially cover costs of bringing in professionals from out of state, if necessary

“The local crews have been great, and with great knowledge of Oklahoma,”

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