Nonprofit for local film industry formed
Published 12:17 am Saturday, September 28, 2019
NATCHEZ — Local officials and citizens were recently asked to sponsor the growth and future of the film industry in Natchez through a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called Film Natchez.
Thor Juell, a film industry executive, made a presentation to the Natchez Board of Aldermen Tuesday asking the board to sponsor Film Natchez with a $200,000 allocation from the community development fund.
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Juell said the contributions would be used to support the local film economy with film initiatives, programming and outreach.
“Film Natchez is a film society that would be the mechanism used to leverage and build an entirely new economy in Natchez,” he said during Tuesday’s meeting.
Juell said Natchez is seated perfectly in an opportunity zone for filmmakers not only because of tax incentives Mississippi legislators passed in April but also for its unique landscape and historic structures.
A stipulation of the tax break requires filmmakers to hire local workers for film productions, Juell said, adding Film Natchez hopes to create that workforce by partnering with local schools and colleges and creating educational programs geared toward filmmaking.
Juell and Film Natchez Director Devin Klugh further presented Film Natchez’s goals during a Friday morning forum at Natchez Coffee Co., which Juell said was “a full house” and generated a lot of interest in the cause.
“I’ve been trying to find these types of platforms … to make sure people are in the know about what is happening,” Juell said of Friday’s presentation. “I think in general people want to be a part of the movie industry’s growth — and even just knowing about what is happening is pretty cool.”
Juell said Film Natchez developed three months ago and has since found partners that could help procure grants for the expansion of film education in Natchez.
In addition, Klugh and the Film Natchez board have hosted other directors and producers in Natchez and gave tours the area so they can get a feel of whether the city has a good environment for future movie sets.
“We’re working on both ends to get productions here as well as doing things in town to make them want to come and want to come back,” Klugh said. “We’re doing a lot of education and training programs by partnering with local schools — Natchez Early College, Alcorn and at the University of Southern Mississippi. We’re also doing a lot of outreach and pushing for members so we can find people who are interested in the film industry.”
Supporters of Film Natchez can receive gifts such as screening tickets, merchandise and access to sets. Klugh said donations can be made online at www.filmnatchez.org.