Thursday, October 13, 2011

Footloose Interview Outtakes: Mr. Brewer Goes to Nashville

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Craig Brewer's Footloose finally opens tomorrow and my cover-story interview with him and review of the film are both up on the site today.

Continuing with my series of interview outtakes — interesting material that I didn't have room for in print — here's Brewer talking about his goals as new member of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment, and Music Commission.

Brewer had wanted to shoot Footloose in Tennessee, but more lucrative state incentives forced the production to Georgia instead. Perhaps in response to charges that the state commission favored Nashville and East Tennessee over Memphis and West Tennessee, Governor Bill Haslem appointed Brewer and Stax legend David Porter to the state commission, adding some high wattage Memphis representatives. Brewer has more skin in this particular game than just about anyone, and his response when I asked what his goals on the commission would be may surprise you:

I think what I would hope to do is three things.

I don't want to hear any more about 'Let's build a studio here' or a big sound stage. Things that I know aren't really going to be a draw for business. It's not like there's going to be some magical thing we can do to suddenly get major motion pictures filming here.

The good thing about my career is my first movie was $20,000, my next movie was $2 million, then $15 million, and I just made a movie for $24 million. But I also did $5 Cover for $400,000. So I've done it at all these different levels that can be incentivized. A personal opinion on my part —and I'll have to talk to people about this; I don't want to be an alarmist — but maybe we should explore just letting that white whale go and just saying, we need to rethink our incentives. We may not be able to get those movies here. I do think there are three things we can do. And I, of course, want to run this by everybody. The three things I want to focus on:

1. Half a million dollar projects that we do have the crew base for. Focus incentives on smaller projects. There's a whole other world of content — commercials, television, web, music videos — where it takes a smaller crew. We've got the crew base for that, but we don't on the big projects. We go maybe one deep. I think the under $500,000 projects help grow the industry and keep the artists and technicians we have working.

2. Special circumstances: For projects like The Blind Side, which really should be shot here. There aren't many people thinking of Tennessee stories. But if they come around? When there is one like that we should make a special appeal for it. I think it did Tennessee good that Walk the Line was shot here. But I'm not falling on my sword over that.

3. I wish we had a music incentive that was heard around the world. I would say 70-80 percent of my soundtrack was done in Tennessee. The artists and songwriters, they're going to get royalties. Was it done in Los Angeles? No, most of this was done in Memphis, Tennessee, in Nashville, Tennessee. We have the infrastructure. We have the studios. We have musicians and engineers. I think we should focus on that. You can make an argument that that's where you can go all local. I just think we should be specific about what we have and how to get it into the entertainment-revenue apparatus. It plays into everything we want to be. I've had two music videos for Footloose shot in Nashville. Music incentives can also create filmmaking activity.

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