Birmingham Film Commission

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The Birmingham Film Commission was a promotional group established twice by the City of Birmingham on July 3, 2001 and December 23, 2003.

2001 Commission

As set forth in the establishing ordinance (No. 01-93), the Birmingham Film Commission would advise the city for the purpose of encouraging the growth of the video and film production industry, promoting public service and professional business practices in that industry, promoting participation by local professionals and by local youth, and engaging surrounding governments in the program of the Commission. As an advisory commission, the BFC would not control its own funding or be able to hold property. It would cooperate in programs with the Birmingham Board of Education, seek sources of funding outside the city budget for furthering its mission, and make detailed annual reports of progress on its objectives.

The ordinance established a 17 member board to be comprised of one representative from the Board of Education, one from the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, one representing each council district (nominated by that councilor), the Director of Planning, Engineering and Permits, the Council Member in charge of the Cultural Arts committee, one representing the Metropolitan Development Board, one appointed by the Citizen's Advisory Board and one appointed by the Jefferson County Commission. These members would be appointed to three year terms with no compensation, and eligible for one re-appointment. "The BFC shall have no authority to act for or obligate the City or any official or agency thereof in any matters, whatsoever."

The Executive Committee overseeing the board was to be comprised of 11 members. Five of these would be designated by the council from the nine appointed to the board. The chairman of the Board would also serve as Chair of the executive committee, along with the City Council representative, the Planning, Engineering & Permits Director, the MDB appointee, the CVB appointee, and one member-at-large elected by the board. The Executive Committee would prepare the annual budget for submission to the Council.

The initial appointments made in October 2001, consisted of Fred Purchis, Earl Hilliard Jr, Rose Walker, Keith Mims, Terri Gaither-Sutton, Rocky Reeves, Darryl Lee, Gary White (representing the Metropolitan Development Board), William Gilchrist (Director of Planning, Engineering & Permits), Sondra Little (representing the Birmingham City Council as Chairperson of Parks & Recreations/Cultural Arts Committee), and John O. Hudson III

Subject to funding by the Council, the BFC would be authorized to establish two paid positions, an Executive Director and an assistant. The Director would need to identify and catalog site locations and photographs, assist with scouting services, liaison with other government agencies, assist with logistical support services, and produce a "Birmingham Production Manual" for publication.

Funding for the group was only made available by the next Council in April, 2002. $20,000 was recommended and adopted as the initial allocation from the Birmingham Arts and Cultural Committee.

2003 Commission

The revived 2003 Commission was created by Ordinance 03-159 on October 28, 2003. In this instance the mission was simply to "encourage the growth and development of the film and video production industry and related businesses in the City of Birmingham," with the same ancillary goals of promoting public service, professional practices, and youth activities through the school system. The smaller Commission would consist of five citizens appointed by the Council to uncompensated positions. The council would have the power to authorize one executive director and one assistant and other paid employees as deemed necessary.

The 2003 membership. appointed on December 23, 2003 along with an initial budget of $63,000 for start-up expenses, included Rocky Reeves, William Canty, Nathaniel Bagley, Taheria Monique Brown, and David Ricker. The paid positions were occupied by Co-Executive Directors Lisa Pickett and Fred Purchis.

The creation of this revived Commission was a surprise to members of Birmingham's existing film industry, some of whom were already in discussions with the County regarding a regional film commission. According to Alan Hunter rumors about the possibility of such a move were discounted by city representatives.

In April 2004 the Parks & Recreation Committee voted to expand the BFC to nine members including two from the Mayor's office and two from the Jefferson County Commission.

By September of the following year the BFC had made preliminary contact with some of the surrounding municipalities, with production companies in California and with film commissions in other states and localities, but was no longer in communication with the City Council. A resolution to provide $30,000 to the Metropolitan Development Board toward creation of the Birmingham-Jefferson Film Office passed 8-1 in the September 21 meeting. BFC member David Ricker attended the meeting and objected to the duplication of expenditures called for with the new organization. The question of whether that pledge would be subtracted from the BFC's budget was not answered.

At the June 2005 meeting a line item expense of $5,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2005 was approved for the Birmingham Film Commission as part of the Capital Improvement Fund, indicating that the BFC still performs some function.

Create Birmingham

Since 2015, local efforts to recruit film productions have been supported by Create Birmingham, which established a "Film Birmingham" component, funded with public and private investment, to promote the city as a filming location and to assist in securing public incentives and other resources.

References

  • Geiss, Chuck. (January 15, 2004) "Naked Birmingham" editorial column. Black & White.
  • Godbey, Paul. (September 21, 2004) "Birmingham City Council moves toward funding film commission amid controversy." Reelscene Ezine. [1] - accessed April 3, 2006
  • City of Birmingham (July 3, 2001) "Regular Meeting of the Council of the City of Birmingham." Minutes. PDF - accessed April 3, 2006
  • City of Birmingham (October 28, 2003) "Regular Meeting of the Council of the City of Birmingham." Minutes. PDF - accessed April 3, 2006