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What: I Love Film mixer and El Dorado County Business Showcase
Who: El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce and the El Dorado Lake Tahoe Film and Media Office
Where: El Dorado County Fairgrounds, Forni Building, 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville
When: Friday, March 15, 4 to 8 p.m.
Information: 530-621-5885, 530-626-4400 or visit the website filmtahoe.com.
If you have a cool ranch, river view, primeval Oak canopy, pet bear or period costume in El Dorado County, hold onto your 10-gallon hat — you may wind up in the movies. Or if you already happen to be a film star like Perry King, you may wind up with a stunning ranch in Cool. Plus the hat.
The symbiosis, or mutual benefit between Hollywood and El Dorado County is strikingly evident this year at the I Love Film mixer in Placerville, a free event and energetic collaboration between the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce and the El Dorado Lake Tahoe Film and Media Office.
It’s the 20th such outreach.
Chamber CEO Laurel Brent-Bumb has seen steady growth in the county’s partnership with the film industry.
“Although most of our vendors are at the film mixer to make new business connections, it’s really a showcase for the residents,” she noted. “In good weather we’ll draw up to 3,000 visitors to the event.”
More than 75 booths, kiosks and displays offer business-to-business products and services, but also provide gateways for individuals to participate in films by renting their property to the studios, or by signing up as a craftsman, caterer or other specific technical skill.
Kathleen Dodge, Film and Media Office commissioner, said, “We reach out to the entire community, not just emerging filmmakers, pretty faces or prop people … although we definitely want to meet them as well. Nearly everyone’s life is touched by what we do.”
Food and wine tastings are among the product and service vendors that will be featured at the mixer. Product placement in the mass media is an important consideration.
“We placed a small local winery’s products into a big movie not long ago. That brought national brand exposure,” Dodge beamed.
This annual showcase of film industry resources and business showcase runs from 4 to 8 p.m. at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, in the Forni Building, 100 Placerville Drive in Placerville.
Later, everyone is invited to a reception at the Reunion Nightclub in El Dorado Hills, in the Town Center. A no-host bar and great music will allow for relaxed exchanges of information.
At the fairground, featured guest Perry King will deliver a 6 p.m. talk on the public collaboration theme.
King, who owns a large working ranch in Cool, was recently named Man of the Year by the Divide Chamber of Commerce, representing Georgetown, Cool, Pilot Hill, Garden Valley and Greenwood.
Real estate broker Ken Calhoon, a director on the El Dorado County chamber board and past president of the Divide chamber, enthused over the actor’s choice of residence.
“We want Perry King to know he’s honored as an ambassador to Cool and all El Dorado County. He believes we live in a giant movie set and wants the industry to take notice. His contributions to film and television are meaningful and span decades. He’s the right guy for our community and we’re all grateful,” Calhoon said.
The former star of TV’s “Riptide” will receive a silver belt buckle engraved with “Cool Cowboy of the Year.”
King’s remarks will address young filmmakers.
“There has never been a better time or place to make a movie,” King said with an unimpeded view of the last 40 years. “Cameras and rigs costing half a million dollars a few years ago, are a tiny percentage of that today. And less tomorrow.”
“Backyard movies have arrived. But you still need a good idea. And you can’t make a good movie out of a bad script. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t give up,” King said.
The actor attended Yale and Julliard before succumbing to a juicy role prior to completion of his studies. He never looked back.
“The industry has been kind to me,” he said. “I want to give back every way I can. Young actors and producers are everywhere, and from what I’ve seen, quite promising.”
Dodge, a former NBC page, talent agent and casting director, relishes explaining the county’s role as a magnet for filmmakers.
“Through the film office, the county unites the ostensibly far-flung worlds of Hollywood and the Foothills by actively promoting liaison between film producers and El Dorado County. We urge producers to look at this, the most spectacular county in California, first. Nothing compares to the quality and economy of the project package. Nothing,” Dodge said.
The accounting firm managing the film office’s books is respectful of the efficiency and effectiveness of the chamber’s work. By the firm’s calculations, the return-on-investment runs above 2,000 percent.
Dodge smiled, “Not a bad investment.”
The executive director believes the cine-partnership got underway in 1930 when the adventure/comedy “Lightnin’” starring Will Rogers, was shot in El Dorado County.
Since, major elements of 40 feature films, half a dozen Hallmark specials, and hundreds of television shows and commercials have played out against the county’s slopes, lakes, rivers, meadows and ranches.
“The film business is a major generator of jobs and revenue and it is important to understand how this industry — and especially location filming — affects our community,” Dodge said.
It has been estimated that in its 20 years, the film office has attracted well over $25 million of local spending by production crews, primarily in hotels, restaurants and prop rentals.
Where does this money go?
“This is an industry of small businesses, not just large studios. Each location shoot means jobs for camera operators, sound and lighting technicians, computer experts, electricians, caterers, plumbers, carpenters, animal trainers, truck drivers, makeup artists, graphic artists, photographers, hairdressers, set designers and production assistants,” Dodge said.
Dodge points to a display of historical photographs depicting camera crews at work.
“These location dollars are spent on hardware, props, film, plants, paint, lumber, cleaners, furniture, portable toilets, generators, clothing, entertainment, food and gasoline,” she said.
This vibrant sub-economy always needs more players. Aspiring locals can add their businesses to the vendor directory, or their names to the crew directory. Location photos and information are important.
For folks thinking of availing their property as a film set, the Film and Media Office Website, filmtahoe.com, offers advice on what they need to know.
An important facet of being a hub for the film business is knowing who and where the experts are.
Many commercials are filmed at Lake Tahoe. The full-service production company, Tahoe Production House, is only four years old but is already growing out of its space. The production and post-production provider is becoming well known in the trade.
Founder and CEO Brandi Brown uses technology specialists in all areas of video production, audio recording, sound engineering, film editing, uploading and content development. Several local companies have chosen TPH as their marketing agency.
“We work around the clock, we absolutely love what we do and we’re all digital,” Brown said.
As El Dorado County continues to expand into the community of filmmakers and filmmaking, the chamber and its film office will strive to stay a step ahead. As technology reduces the entry cost (and risk) of movie making, the supporting infrastructure will adapt into models resembling the Tahoe Production House.
With respected industry professionals like Perry King advocating the vision, the community is less likely to lose the virtues of real imagination expressed in fresh moviemaking.
And every resident, with or without a ranch to rent or a prop to sell, becomes the beneficiary.
“A bit like a movie,” quipped Dodge, “with a talented cast and a great plot, but no caption reading ‘the end.’”
For more information call the media office at 530-626-4400 or visit the website filmtahoe.com.