In two years the Fort Worth Film Commission has come a long way – that was the message delivered to the Fort Worth City Council in its work session Dec. 5.
Mitch Whitten and Jessica Christopherson delivered the presentation, updating the council on the commission’s accomplishments since it was formed.
"We were losing business to other cities," said Whitten, vice president of marketing and communications for the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau.
He said reasons Fort Worth is finding success in the film industry include the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, location variety, a creative atmosphere, cost of living and a business-friendly attitude.
Christopherson, the CVB's film commissioner and director of marketing, said so far 57 projects have been pitched, along with 323 assisted projects, and 136 projects have been filmed. These include independent films, reality TV, documentaries, regular TV and more.
Networks that have brought projects to Fort Worth have included ESPN, Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, HBO and TNT.
In all, Christopherson said, the work brought in by the film commission has had an $11.9 million economic impact.
Christopherson listed among the projects connected with Fort Worth:
• Flip and Flop Fort Worth on HGTV.
• Texas Flip and Move on DIY.
• The film A Bad Idea Gone Wrong, which opened recently in theaters, filmed completely in Fort Worth and produced by Red Sanders and Sanders Productions of Fort Worth.
• Movie A Ghost Story produced by Fort Worth's Jason Johnson with scenes filmed in downtown Fort Worth.
• Movie Never Goin’ Back, filmed in Fort Worth and premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
"From an industry standpoint, our biggest opportunity to grow is in film and art," said District 4 Councilman Cary Moon, urging the commission to stress to filmmakers the benefits of no state income tax in Texas, along with the other Fort Worth benefits.
"You've got to push that," he said.
District 5 Councilmember Gyna Bivens noted that when Walker: Texas Ranger was filmed in Fort Worth years ago, blight and broken-down houses were of interest to the show. She joked, "Many houses were blown up as Walker was fighting crime."
Then she laughed and added, "I've got a few properties I'd like to see blown away."
District 9 Councilmember Ann Zadeh said she was married in a house owned by her cousin that drew a lot of interest from filmmakers.
"It was on some kind of database, and so it was in numerous television shows and movies because of the different characteristics of that house," she said.
Christopherson said there is a database for such homes at the website www.filmfortworth.com.
"Didn't Robert Redford do a shot or two at a local bank?" District 7 Councilman Dennis Shingleton asked.
That prompted Christopherson to respond with a smile, "We'll have some exciting announcements to make at our annual meeting."
According to several reports, actor/director Redford has been shooting The Old Man and the Gun around Texas, including at the American Bank in Bellmeade, north of Waco and at Fort Worth’s Worthington National Bank.
That meeting will be in February, Whitten said.