Forming film commission focuses effort

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Perhaps the sight of Mick Jagger walking Main Street created the head-slapping moment Natchez Mayor Butch Brown just had.

The appearance of one of the most famous singers in the world in Natchez a week ago signaled for many residents just how important the filming of Universal Pictures’ “Get On Up” actually is for the community.

It’s true that the film about the life of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, is a big deal — a really big deal. It’s also true that this film happened because Natchez got a little lucky.

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Director Tate Taylor, a Mississippi native, saw the beauty of southwest Mississippi and decided to convince the studio to bring the entire production to Mississippi. Taylor loves this part of the state so much he owns a house in nearby Church Hill, just north of Natchez.

The filming isn’t over yet, but the impact on the local economy is already being felt — a fact that wasn’t lost on Mayor Brown.

Last week, the mayor said he plans to form a local film commission to help recruit additional film productions to Natchez.

We think the idea makes a great deal of sense, particularly in light of the previous film commission created decades ago that had great success, landing a number of film and TV productions to Natchez.

Not surprisingly, when the local film recruitment efforts dwindled, so did the number of film productions in Natchez.

A few years ago, our community realized the importance of having a professional economic development effort and created Natchez Inc.

The sad reality is that had our community been constantly recruiting industries over the last several decades — rather than resting on our existing industry laurels — the departure of heavy industry wouldn’t have been so devastating to the economy.

Natchez got lucky on the current film, but the city needs to put forth some effort, roll out the welcome mat and make sure others in Hollywood know how to find Natchez.