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Article Archive >> In Your County

CVB's Riford attends Maryland Film Industry Coalition event

(L-R) Tom Riford, the President of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau met with Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Christian Johansson and Maryland Film Office Executive Director Jack Gerbes at the First Annual Maryland Film Industry Coalition fundraiser held in Baltimore.


CVB's Riford attends Maryland Film Industry Coalition event

(Baltimore, MD): The Maryland Film Industry Coalition is an alliance of business leaders, labor unions, educational institutions, government entities and individuals that recognize the importance of film, television and media production to Maryland's economy. The Coalition was formed in July 2008 to confront a growing threat to this crucial business sector. The CVB's Tom Riford is a member of the coalition, and the CVB is a financial sponsor.
Bringing film and television projects to Hagerstown-Washington County is important for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. According to Riford, "Maryland has lost pace compared to other states due to a lack of competitive incentives in the State's current Film Production Rebate Program. Film industry decision makers-including many with a strong favoritism of Maryland" are directing film production companies to spend money in other states with proven film incentive programs." Riford said that his office is working with the Maryland Film Industry Coalition, "We are working to help level the playing field, or Maryland's economy will suffer further. We shouldn't be losing projects to other states, especially if the films are supposed to be about Maryland, or if the story takes place in Maryland."
Film, television and media productions have a strong economic impact on State and local economies. Film, television and media productions are revenue generators and offer more exciting growth opportunities for businesses in our state than most any other part of our economy. The industry provides high-paying jobs for crew, actors and support staff. The scope of production activity is broad, resulting in substantial expenditures with local businesses.
"We know that film and television projects bring economic impact," said Riford. "Goods and services are purchased from many types of businesses, including hotels, restaurants, property rentals, art supply stores, lumber and paint companies, equipment and party rental stores, costume shops, thrift shops, fabric stores, sign shops, car rental companies, coffee shops and carry-outs. An average film does business with hundreds of local vendors."
Riford has testified to Maryland's House and Senate committees regarding the Maryland Film Office budget, and the state's film incentive program.
Local citizens benefit from film and television projects. In addition to direct economic benefits, long term benefits include development and establishment of spin-off film production activities such as editing, sound production, creative and artistic activities, development of permanent facilities such as sound stages and studios, and cottage industries related to independent filmmaking, documentaries, music videos, advertising and interactive media production.
Tourism in Maryland is boosted by "Made in Maryland" film and television productions. Brides flock to The Inn at Perry Cabin because they watched Wedding Crashers. Fans of Homicide: Life on the Street are seen snapping photos by the Rec Pier in Fells Point nearly everyday. Visits to Antietam National Battlefield increased after Gods and Generals was released.
"Many tourism experts feel that other states have proven models for attracting film production activities to their states. This is not the case in Maryland," said Riford. "We have been working hard to increase benefits and incentives for these kind of projects."
The Maryland Film Industry Coaltiion feels that Maryland can adopt the proven methods of other states, which will result in the immediate generation of new economic activity. State and local tax revenues will receive the direct benefit of the new economic activities prior to distribution of the rebated portion of film production costs to the film production company.
The Coalition has often said: Maryland must take steps to stop the local film industry from moving away. The state's great crew base is departing. Small businesses connected to the film industry are shrinking or collapsing. College graduates are leaving Maryland for jobs in the film industry in other states. Other states are enacting competitive rebate programs, and Maryland is losing out.

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