All the Town's a Stage 

Nothing But the Truth puts state tax incentives to work.

An average day on the job for Martin Lane seems like anything but Hollywood glamour. He finds Porto-Johns, picks up trash, and figures out where an entire cast and crew of a movie are going to eat.

"It really sucks sometimes," Lane says. "I'm the first person there and the last to leave. If they shoot for 12 hours, I'm there for 16."

Lane is the location manager for Nothing But the Truth, the feature-length movie starring Kate Beckinsale, Alan Alda, and Matt Dillon that has been shooting in Memphis since early October.

As a location manager, Lane works with the Memphis and Shelby County Film and Television Commission, but Lane might not even have the job if it weren't for the 2006 Tennessee Visual Content Act.

The legislation offers tax incentives to both in- and out-of-state groups to produce films in Tennessee, and Nothing But the Truth is the first film to take advantage of these incentives.

For other movies recently shot in Memphis, the film commission had to create local incentive packages. With 2004's Walk the Line, "we had to pull together every incentive we could find on a local level," says deputy film commissioner Sharon Fox O'Guin. "We got that movie by the skin of our teeth."

Locally, the number of potential productions is up, and Nothing But the Truth executive producer James Spies opened an office in Nashville.

"All this shows that it makes economic sense [to film companies], not only creative sense," O'Guin says.

On location, Lane sees what kind of difference a film can make to local businesses.

A film set requires dozens of trained and experienced artisans, and, according to Lane, 50 percent of the crew for Nothing But the Truth came from outside the city. Fortunately, one of the provisions in Tennessee's new incentives is an on-the-job training program to expand the local crew base.

"Part of the incentives are based on how much local business the project uses: laborers, vendors, and rental services," Lane explains.

With Memphis businesses adapting to the new industry, film shoots may become more than an occasional occurrence. And no doubt, Lane will still be cleaning up afterward.

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