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Movie Momentum

The growth of the film industry in Oklahoma has grown exponentially from six films in 2015 to 34 last year. With the foundation laid by legendary movie producer Gray Frederickson to current heavy hitters Prairie Surf Media, Oklahoma is poised to capitalize on this growing industry.

The film industry in Oklahoma has come a long way. Let’s do a quick recap:

Where it started
In 2001, my dad formed a film production company called Graymark Productions with legendary movie producer, Gray Frederickson, who won a Best Picture Oscar for The Godfather Part II in 1975. At the height of his career, Frederickson knew most everyone in the business, but he was extremely humble. He was a true champion of film, a proud ambassador of OKC and a great friend. Everyone loved Gray.

It’s difficult to talk about the film industry in Oklahoma without talking about Gray Frederickson. In recent years, I had the exciting opportunity to work with Lance McDaniel, filmmaker, former executive director of DeadCenter Film Festival and one of Gray’s mentees, to develop the score for several of his films. One of which starred Rachel Cannon, actress, CEO of Prairie Surf Media, and also one of Gray’s mentees. All roads seem to point back to this one man, so it seemed only fitting to acknowledge his personal contributions before talking about the industry as a whole. Gray’s reach in the Oklahoma film community is difficult to quantify, but it’s clear that the film industry wouldn’t be what it is today without him.

Where it’s going
In 2015, Oklahoma averaged six movies per year and an $8 million direct fiscal impact. Flash forward to 2021, and Oklahoma had 34 productions with a $161 million direct fiscal impact. (According to the Oklahoma Film Office, the $161 million turns out to be closer to $400 million when you factor in ancillary spending in the state.) Significant growth is happening, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In fact, the film industry’s production spending increased by 16.1% in North America during the pandemic, and the demand for content is only increasing.

Of course, more films means more money being brought into Oklahoma, but what I’m finding interesting is the correlation between more productions and the per film economic impact. For example, in 2015 the average production was $1.33 million ($8 million for six films), while in 2021 the average production was $4.7 million ($161 million for 34 projects). More productions in our state seems to have quite the compounding effect.

What could be
I think it’s safe to say that the film industry in the 405 is really just getting started. As we’ve seen in Hollywood, and more recently in Atlanta, other complementary industries will benefit from the film industry’s continued success. Tourism, the music industry, video gaming, production technologies, higher education film programs and other entertainment-related degrees, marketing and distribution, public relations and advertising will all experience growth too.

Movies create momentum.

Photo provided

 

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