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Tensions high at film board meeting

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson under Behind the scenes, Movies Updated: January 30, 2014 - 2:30 PM

The Minnesota Film & TV Board held a town-hall meeting Wednesday for workers in the industry, hoping to quell mounting criticism of its effectiveness at carrying out its primary purpose, bringing out-of-state movie and television business to Minnesota. But at the end of the discussion, many attendees remained unconvinced.

About 80 people gathered in a back room at Darby's, a poorly chosen venue as it was dark, hard to hear, and more than half of the group had to stand.

Dan Satorius, board chair of MN Film & TV, and its director, Lucinda Winter, tried to answer questions--  often delivered in tones of frustration. Topics ranged from why the film board should remain an independent nonprofit when most other states' boards are government-run to fears that Minnesota's board isn't acting fast enough to prove to the state legislature, which five months ago gave it $10 million in Snowbate incentives, that the money was well spent.

Satorius noted that the board's budget is considerably lower than those of many state-run film boards. Winter said she needs more time, as she couldn't prematurely sell filmmakers on Minnesota before she had the $10 million in hand.

Some felt they should have more of a say in how the board operates.

"We have a group representing us and we don't get a vote," said actress/producer Jakk Netland. "I think if you are a registered crew member on the film board website, you should have a vote in its leadership."

"They should be working harder to get us work, especially when they have taxpayer dollars," said art-department worker Cooper Sheehan.

Others pleaded for a united front, saying divisiveness doesn't help anyone, and that the film board faces heavy competition from states with bigger and better incentive programs.

"There's a lot that isn't in the control of the board," said Jennifer Breitinger, an experienced lobbyist at the Capitol whose clients include MN Film & TV. "Turn this energy into talking to your legislators. When you fight against yourselves, it just doesn't work."

"Things don't happen overnight," said Meighan McGuire, a producer on the Minnesota-shot small indie film  "The Jingle Dress," referring to the board's needing more time to attract major films with the Snowbate money. "People here have been out of work so long, they're impatient."

Former board chair Dick Crockett reminded the group that "we work in an industry characterized by criticism," implying that it's a given to expect a lot of pushback behind the scenes as well.

Read a recent Star Tribune story on the film board at  http://www.startribune.com/a2554

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