SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - A new non-profit, the Southern Illinois Film Commission, is aiming to put the region on the map for the film industry.
Founders say that if more people take advantage of the Illinois Film Tax Credit and the beautiful locations southern Illinois has to offer, it could mean big things for the regional economy as well as provide a platform to help new filmmakers break into the industry.
Tom Harness and Jon Musgrave are two co-founders of the commission, who highlight that there were about $423 million dollars in motion picture expenditures in Illinois last year and southern Illinois didn't even see one percent of that money simply because people don't utilize the area enough.
Musgrave has worked on multiple movies in southern Illinois, in part because he knew they could use many of the forested areas to film rather than go out of state.
"A lot of the times you don't have to be at the actual location that's mentioned in the movie, as long as you can make it fit," he said.
That's what they want to bring attention to here. Harness says that if they can get more filmmakers interested in the area, it could bring more productions. Film productions bring in a lot of people that spend money in the area they're working in one way or another.
Harness notes what happened in New Orleans after the NIMS Studio was built after Hurricane Katrina.
"It brought in business through food trucks, through labor, through wood, through electric, from people flying in, but also one thing that's big for our area is bed tax through motels," he said.
Other than boosting the local economy and producing more films in Southern Illinois, the two think that this commission could help more aspiring filmmakers break into the competitive industry.
"They can't take a chance," Musgrave said on established film production companies. "They're going to work with somebody they know or people who can vouch for them."
They say they plan on working closely with universities in the area like Southern Illinois University Carbondale to bring young filmmakers into the fray.