Funding could be lost for local TV and film commission

Funding could be lost for local TV and film commission

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By ANN KEIL
6 News Reporter

KNOX COUNTY (WATE) -- Knox County budget cuts mean some local non-profit organizations including The East Tennessee Television and Film Commission might not be seeing any funding this upcoming year.

The East Tennessee Television and Film Commission typically receives around $100,000 a year in grant funding from Knox County, its primary supporter. 

Knox County Commissioner Greg Lambert says not funding this commission would be a bad move.

Commissioner Lambert is invested in the local television and film community. Besides starring in a local political thriller, he's fighting to bring back funding for the commission.

"These are hard economic times, but we have an industry here with film and television that has not in any way reached its potential," says Commissioner Lambert.

He says it's a mistake to liken the commission to local non-profits in need of community grants. It should be a line item, calling it a government entity with great economic potential.

"If you have a film that's being made in an area, you have millions of dollars pumped into the local economy," explains Commissioner Lambert.

The East Tennessee Television and Film Commission not only works to recruit production projects to the Knox County area, it helps local productions with locations, crews, talent, and promotions.

David Rowlett, a local independent filmmaker, says the commission helped him with locations for his latest film starring Commissioner Lambert.

"It will have a big effect on people who work on films like grips and best boys and post production facilities," says Rowlett.

"The money we invest in the film commission comes back to us multiple times in business they generate," adds Commissioner Lambert.

He plans to hold a public meeting to discuss how the television and film commission could be reintroduced into the budget. 

6 News spoke with another local filmmaker who says he is devastated by the news that the committee could lose all its funding. He says his latest film 'Boys of Summerville' wouldn't have been possible without the commission's former director, Michael Barnes, who recently resigned.

"Without him there, I guess I'm going to be shooting in the dark from now on so I think it's going to be a lot harder," says Brooks Benjamin. 

Still, hope is not lost for the commission. The next Knox County budget hearing is scheduled for June 11, and county commission is expected to take another look at the local non-profit groups that aren't included in the most recent budget proposal.

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