It’s official. And it’s history! As you may have heard, Gov. Tim Kaine has signed SB1421, the digital media fee bill. Thanks are in order for many folks. But let me thank first Governor Kaine himself for signing what is certainly a major step forward for VPA membership (and the Commonwealth itself).
But, hold your applause. First, here are some facts concerning our new legislation. When the measure takes effect July 1st of this year, we should expect around $375,000 during the first full year of implementation. Bud Oakey, our lobbyist-in-chief from Advantus Strategies, tells me that this can generate as much as one million dollars or more. But don’t spill your popcorn. We won’t know the amount for a few years until an accurate average can be formulated. So think good thoughts (and rent those in-room hotel movies).
Bud and Terry Stroud also indicate that the General Assembly had increased its appropriation to the Governor’s Motion Picture Opportunity Fund another $200,000. So added to the existing amounts on hand, the digital media fee estimates have pushed the total budget this year to about $775,000. If the digital media measure collects more than the $375,000, that difference will go to the Motion Picture Opportunity Fund and would be “corrected” in the January 2010 budget amendments. Stay tuned.
And before the thanking commences, let me throw this out. Could we think about some neat way to thank the Gov. and delegates that made this historic chapter of Virginia film industry a reality? Email me with ideas at email@example.com.
Back to our VPA crew. Any list of thank-yous should start with a heartfelt thanks to outgoing VPA President Ellie St. John who worked so hard on our behalf. Ellie, the VPA thanks you for your guidance through so many tasks and assignments. She was usually alongside VPA Chairman Terry Stroud in those trenches. Terry, your tireless efforts are legendary. That also applies to Anne Chapman, Joe Cacciotti and Steve Hurwitz. And Mary Nelson, your support and dedication to our board never goes without everyone’s collective notice and admiration.
Let’s also thank the hard work of Alfred Shapiro, Todd Raviotta, Jennifer Pullinger, Hunter Thomas, Jeffrey Frizzell, Kahil Dotay, Spec Campen, Barbara Guerrieri and Colleen Walsh for doing so much heavy lifting, planning, calling , and more. Bob Griffith, your films helped make a difference. And hats off to the hardest working film office around in Mary and Rita McClenny, Andy Edmunds, Mary Kathryn Severin, Becky Beckstoffer and Kathryn Stephens. They were there for us and supported our efforts all the way. If there’s a better film office in the country, I know not where. And Matthew Costello, thank you for your help with our website. Back to Advantus: let’s also thank Bud’s talented staff comprised of Josh Myers, David Anderson and May Fox.
My thoughts go back to the recent past of the VPA task force where hundreds of VPA members and corporate partners reached deep into their pockets and planted political seeds of action from which we are now seeing fruit. Mark Joy led a truly inspired group fueled by hard earned donations and equally hard working VPA members and friends that amounted to the foundation of where we are today. We have toiled over the years, even soliciting celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis. Heck, even the cast of the Wizard of Oz helped advance our cause in the halls of the GAB. And thanks to the owners of The Camel on Broad for their gracious hospitality, allowing us to meet in their restaurant.
So if you attended Film Day at the GAB this year (or in years past), the VPA thanks you. It did not go unnoticed. I do mean that sincerely. Those of you who took time off from demanding jobs not once but many times to lobby and fight for what we believe in can only be viewed as heroic and inspiring. And if you emailed or called your legislators this past year, it helped. We have proof! While the monies from the digital media fee will never be (or were created to be) the one solution to transforming our industry in Virginia to the very top, it sure feels great knowing we have real results.
So thanks to all of you. Every VPA’R out there. Thanks to your bare-knuckled, all hands on deck, can-do attitude, film production in Virginia is on the rise again. That means gains in employment for us all, whether you’re a best boy, director, or my favorite artists, the guys “who blow things up.” That has to be fun. See you soon. And tell your friends to join the VPA.