Film and media consultant Doug Miller has worked for more than three decades to attract and coordinate film production in the Quad Cities region.
He is now hired by the Rock Island Economic Development Team to formally establish a new regional film office for quality control. The city council this week approved a one-year contract with Miller and his company, Two Rivers & Associates, to be funded by a $65,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Miller is “well suited to advising local staff on best practices as the team works to formally establish the regional film office,” per the council’s recommendation. The contract is for a period of one year and will be paid out of funding earmarked for the movie desk’s start-up. The contract (which will pay the consultant $1,665 per month through June 2023) includes an option to extend the term for an additional year if needed.
Miller’s responsibilities to the City of Rock Island will be:
- Advise city employees in creating a Rock Island ordinance to simplify the application and permit process.
- I recommend any necessary city passes.
- Work with City staff to develop a Memorandum of Agreement to be signed by participating communities/stakeholders in the Film Bureau.
- Develop a website to display the Quad Cities area as a photography destination and provide information about the area.
- Submit a recommendation for membership in the International Association of Film Commissioners.
- Identify and create a report of available manpower, manpower required, training required including cost and plan for conducting training, and recommendations on how to develop the workforce.
- Prepare documentation for facilities that can contain products.
- Advise staff on efforts to support existing and emerging local filmmakers.
- Evidence for evaluating the feasibility of a film festival concept either as a stand-alone event or as a supplement to an existing event.
- Provide updates in industry news.
- Submit referrals to the Film Bureau and respond to referrals from the Film Bureau.
The new film office will serve as a one-stop shop for people inquiring about movie productions in the area, “to make sure they are in touch with the right people,” Tara Sipes, director of economic development for the city of Rock Island, said Wednesday.
“You want projects that are perfectly shot in Rock Island, that might have an economic impact on Rock Island, but that serve the entire area,” she said.
“Film production is basically an economic development activity because when it comes to it, they need hotel rooms, restaurants, businesses in our community, and so we approach it from an economic development perspective,” Sipes said. “We consider ourselves a good value proposition.”
Working with the Illinois Film Bureau
Miller — who headed the QC Productions Alliance and the former Quad City Film Alliance — is close to Peter Hawley, director of the Illinois Film Bureau. Bring Hawley to the Rock Island Holiday Inn on August 19, 2021 to talk about state incentives for filming and funding, as part of the Alternating Currents Festival.
Film and television production in Illinois spent nearly $362 million in 2020, down 35% from about $560 million spent in 2019. The state film office website has a long list of studio and audio theater locations — mostly in Chicago and one in Peoria, and nothing in quality control.
“It’s tough because many places around the state outside of Chicago, they don’t have the infrastructure, and by infrastructure I mean studio facilities and crew base,” Hawley said last August. “But that being said, because we’re doing more and more production and overall in the state, there’s more production and there’s more infrastructure. It’s getting easier and easier, and Hollywood is going to go after the dollar and they’re going to love it here and you’re going through a year full of gangs and they’re going to want to come to Illinois.” .
“I think the Illinois Quad Cities have a lot to offer film production,” he said of locations and potential workforce.
“I think there’s a shortage of audio theaters around the world,” Miller said Wednesday, noting that a lot of the Illinois movie tax credits go to commercials. He wants the new QC Film Office to be able to market the Six District area to companies and filmmakers everywhere.
“We want them to say, ‘Wait a second, they’ve made 20 movies there in the last 30 years,'” Miller said. “That’s more than anybody has between Chicago and Omaha, you know, and then you’ll be able to play those cards.”
The Illinois Film Bureau helps facilitate filmmaking by providing a range of pre-production services through a central point of contact. It also acts as a liaison between government departments and agencies, facilitating communications with local communities and photographing arrangements on public property.
The office also provides site photography assistance, site library, regional scouting services, and logistical information regarding crew, talent, facilities, stages, equipment, and support services.
Because production companies focus on the bottom line, Illinois tax credit incentives for filming include:
- 30% of Illinois eligible production expenditures.
- 30% Illinois payroll credit of up to $100,000 per worker.
- The 5-year tax credit can be carried over from the date it was originally issued from the Illinois Bureau of Film/Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
- 15% Additional Credit – Applicants will receive an additional 15% tax credit on salaries for people (at least $1,000 of gross wages) who live in economically disadvantaged areas, and whose unemployment rate is at least 150% of the median annual state.
Sipes of Rock Island attended the Illinois Film Bureau talk here last August and was impressed.
“I’ve dealt with this kind of skepticism – what’s the probability that we’ll get projects here?” Wednesday said. “But listening to the way they talk about the film credit and the investors keenness to tap into that film credit, I think if we can help connect local filmmakers to that organization, I think that will help secure some projects, even if we’re not pulling a blockbuster movie. “.
Partnerships with organizations and places
Sipes recommended construction of the sprawling QCCA Exhibition Center ( . 4,2621).The tenth Ave. Rock Island) as a potentially good movie studio space.
“You have high ceiling heights, and the space required,” she said. “The Expo Center’s busy season is a quiet season for the film industry and vice versa. Even if we can get a small production into their facility, it benefits Rock Island; it benefits the Quad Cities.”
She said film production anywhere would need a wide range of local services — from transportation to hair and makeup, costumes, location builders, food service, and electricity. “There are effects that roll down the drain,” Sipes said.
Rock Island will work with Miller and other quality control groups (such as the QC Chamber and Visit Quad Cities) to compile lists of qualified and experienced people who could work in the industry, put these contacts on a regional film website, and help market the area.
“There are really good movie office websites out there, like Georgia has a really great site, with an excellent index,” Sipes said. “That could be an ambitious goal. You have a production directory in Illinois, where people can look for different types of help or services, and figure out how best to connect our people.
“We know we have people in Quad Cities doing this kind of work, and skilled craftsmen who can work some jobs,” she said, adding that QC also offers an amazing variety of accessible filming locations, from urban to rural.
Miller’s last major QC film project was coordinating filming for a new TV series, which was filmed in the region in late 2019. After more than two years of filming the outdoor scenes for the series in the Illinois Quad Cities, “The Now” premiered last December on the Illinois Channel. Roku.
“The Now” is a 14-episode comedy series directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly. It stars Dave Franco, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Daryl Hannah and Jimmy Tatro. It was originally scheduled to release in 2020 on Quibi, but it moved to the Roku channel due to Quibi shutting down in December 2020.
None of the series’ stars were at the local QC filming, which took place over three days in November 2019 and featured footage in downtown Moline, Rock Island, Schwibert Riverfront Park, and Port Byron (including a downtown police chase with a simulated car. Mullen Band). The crew was based at the Hyatt House/Hyatt Place in East Moline, which was redesigned as the entrance to the emergency room for morning shooting.
Miller hopes to bring Peter Hawley (whose parents live in Bettendorf) back into the AC for this year, for another panel discussion on filming in the area. The QC Film Office will also partner with Fresh Films, which is based at Augustana College.
“We will try and engage as many entities as possible initially,” Miller said. “I also want to work on trying to cheer the next Scott Beck and Brian Woods.”
Beck and Woods is a Bettendorf native, critical film buff who wrote the hit 2018 thriller A Quiet Place.