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Reel-Scout’s Blog Has a New Home

Reel-Scout's new site and blog

Dear Friends,

After a little over a year using WordPress as our blogging platform, Reel-Scout’s blog now has a new home. All blog articles from today going forward will be published on our new blog.

And last but not least, our new blog is also a part of Reel-Scout’s beautiful new site.

See you there!

The Reel-Scout team

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Everybody Loves Whales Filming in Alaska

Rescuing 3 whales in Alaska (1988)

(Above photo belongs to the Anchorage Daily News.)

I have a strange love for Alaska. Strange because I’ve never been to the state, and yet it sits firmly on my list of top favorite places of all time to visit.

When I heard that Drew Barrymore’s latest project is being filmed in Alaska this month, I knew I had to do a little write-up and share the good news.

The movie is Everybody Loves Whales, produced by Universal Pictures and directed by Ken Kwapis (He’s Just Not That Into You).

The list of stars is impressive. In addition to Drew Barrymore, it also includes John Krasinski (The Proposal), Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Ted Danson, Vinessa Shaw (3:10 to Yuma), and Tim Blake Nelson (Syriana).

The movie has all the ingredients of success for me. Alaska is a dream location. Drew Barrymore is hugely talented and one of my favorite actors. And last but not least, it’s about whales. Who doesn’t love whales? There couldn’t have been a better movie recipe.

The Origin

The film is based on Tom Rose’s nonfiction book Freeing the Whales. It’s the true story of the 1988 international effort to rescue three grey whales trapped in the Arctic water of Point Barrow, Alaska. (See above photo, which belongs to the Anchorage Daily News.)

The Filming Location

The Alaska Film Office is thrilled to have the movie filmed in the state. They’re also happy to share that the number of productions interested in filming in the Last Frontier has been rising of late.

Mike Porcaro, CEO of Porcaro Communications, credits this increase to Alaska’s breathtaking and challenging landscapes:

“Look what you’ve got, you got this incredible backdrop. When you look at Alaska you see so much, there’s so many possibilities. It can look like so many different places on the globe.”

The 30% Film Tax Credit

According to the Alaska Film Office, the new film tax credits and abundant local resources help make Alaska a big draw for productions.

Everybody Loves Whales is the first major movie to result from the tax incentive program introduced by Sen. Johnny Ellis in 2008. This new program offers 30% tax credit to productions spending at least $100,000 in Alaska. There are also additional credits for hiring Alaskans, and shooting in rural areas and during the winter.

As a result, there are currently 25 productions waiting in line to be filmed in Alaska.

The Fish That Got Away

This should more than make up for the number of projects that had slipped from the state in the past few years. Dave Worrell, Alaska Film Office development specialist, states:

“A lot of movies and productions have been set in Alaska and filmed elsewhere, and the Legislature thought that if something is going to be set in Alaska it ought to be filmed here.”

Before the new incentive program, movies that were set in Alaska such as 30 Days of Night and The Fourth Kind were filmed instead in New Zealand and Bulgaria. Sandra Bullock’s 2009 blockbuster The Proposal – even though set in beautiful Sitka, Alaska – was filmed in Massachusetts.

“Shoot In Alaska”

Carolyne Robinson, owner and executive producer at Sprocketheads LLC, an Anchorage-based film company, says:

“The film executive (of an upcoming movie starring Viggo Mortensen, Liam Neeson and Jeff Bridges) told me flat out that they did a multi-country, multi-state comparison. And calculating in our film incentive program, the bottom line was – shoot in Alaska.”

Clearly, Alaska is working hard to encourage high quality productions to film locally in the state.

“This will not be a short job. It’ll be a 10-year job to build this industry. But it’ll be a lot of fun,” states Mike Devlin, one of the founders of Evergreen Films.

On Location in Bootlegger’s Cove

For now, Everybody Loves Whales is currently filming at the Congdons’ home in Bootlegger’s Cove, Alaska.

Everybody Loves Whales filming in Alaska

(Above photos belong to the Anchorage Daily News.)

Mr. Congdon let his daughter Bret skip school so she could experience the filming process going on at their family home. To prepare for the filming, set designers repaint the Congdons house and bring in tropical plants to replicate the feel of a California residence.

“They say they will change everything that we would like back to original, although we think we’re going to keep the door,” Mr. Congdon said.

“This film is a multi-million-dollar production, and … Alaskans make up between half and two-thirds of its staff,” said Alaska’s NBC News. “The crew is hiring caterers, booking hotel rooms and using all of the other services that a visitor might need for a 10-week stay.”

And even though this one-day shoot at the Congdons house is nothing extraordinary, “just a few cuts depicting a family at home, watching the whale rescue unfold on TV,” to some of the neighbors in Bootlegger’s Cove, it’s possibly an event of a lifetime.

For more pictures of the filming at the Congdons home from the Anchorage Daily News, click here.

The Alaska Film Office

All of us at Reel-Scout are excited for our client, the Alaska Film Office.

To get the latest updates on all productions filmed in Alaska, visit the the Alaska Film Office’s Facebook page.

127 Hours Filmed On Location in Utah

127 Hours Filmed On Location in Utah

Not too long ago, I did an article on Director Danny Boyle’s latest movie 127 Hours, filmed on location in the beautiful red rock country of Moab, Utah.

Fast forward four months later to an evening in September 12, 2010, 127 Hours, a film based on the true story of outdoorsman Aron Ralston, had its first public screening at the Toronto Film Festival.

The reaction to the film was visceral and intense, with its audience “peeking at the screen through parted fingers.” There were “gasps and a standing ovation” for both the director and the film’s main actor James Franco. And yes, there were also Oscar talks. And a few people fainted.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but did manage to watch the trailer. Three times.

The preview blew me away. I’m in awe of real-life hero Aron Ralston, and am pleasantly surprised at the acting talent of James Franco. But what impresses me most is the other main character of the movie — the gorgeous, sun-drenched, red rock canyon country of Utah. To give you a feel of what that landscape is like, I’ve screen captured a few shots from the movie trailer here.

127 Hours is already on the list of one of the “5 buzz-worthy films from the Toronto Film Festival.” Its release to the public in November 2010 will of course bring more visitors to Utah. And not just us Americans folks I’m sure, since British movie buffs will also get a chance to experience southern Utah in October at the BFI London Film Festival.

Dollars-and-cents-wise, 127 Hours along with Walt Disney Co.’s production of Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter of Mars have already contributed $30 million to Utah’s economy this year. 127 Hours alone brought in $14 million. It looks like Utah’s film tax incentive program is doing its job nicely.

For the rest of us movie lovers, after 127 Hours … we may never forget Utah.

Breaking Dawn to be Filmed in Louisiana

Breaking Dawn

Just a brief entry to let our Twilight fans know that Breaking Dawn, the movie based on the fourth and final novel in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, will be filmed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Louisiana’s attractive film tax credits have been drawing Breaking Dawn, along with many other productions to the state for filming. This has provided the much needed boost to Louisiana’s economy and tourist industry.

Current projects filming in Louisiana include Catch 44, with Bruce Willis and Forest Whitaker, and The Big Valley a Century Fox film starring Jessica Lange, Richard Dreyfuss, and Stephen Moyer.

Breaking Dawn, directed by Bill Condon, is a two-part film. Part one of the movie is scheduled for theatrical release in November 2011.

Burn Notice Gives Florida Its Comeback

Currently in its fourth season, the television action drama Burn Notice made its debut on June 28, 2007 on USA Network and has been cruising on its strong ratings since.

If you’re a Burn Notice fan, you probably appreciate the authentic feel of its setting. It is the only Miami set TV show that is actually filmed on location in and around Miami. The show also has a permanent set built in the former Coconut Grove Convention Center in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood.

Why choose Florida as the show’s filming location? Matt Nix, Burn Notice’s creator, believes that – in addition to the year-round blue skies and sunny weather – filming in Florida can be cost-saving:

If you go to a city that has a lot of water, where they’ve never tried to do a boat chase, well, everybody’s learning on your dime. In Florida, there aren’t 13 meetings where they say, ‘How are we going to do this?’ They know how much it’s going to cost and they just do it. It doesn’t (officially) go on any balance sheet, but when you’re actually looking at the advantages and disadvantages of a location, that particular thing turns into real dollars and cents.

Florida’s comeback with Hollywood is a big step forward for the state, especially since its annual budget for the 15% film tax rebate dropped significantly two years ago from $25 million (in 2007) to $5 million (in 2008).

Fortunately, in 2009 Florida bumped up its funding for the film industry to $10.8 million, with $5.2 million of that money firmly committed to Burn Notice.

In March 2010, Florida took the initiative a step further when it planned to allocate $242 million to its film tax rebate program over the next five years. This announcement made the producers of Burn Notice quite happy. The show has been renewed for its fifth and sixth seasons, and a Burn Notice prequel movie is also in the works.

If you have never watched Burn Notice before, perhaps now is a good time to start. We’ve already added it to our Netflix queue!

Jennifer Parramore, director of the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Film Commission and Tampa Film Commissioner Lindsey Norris Guthrie both say they have been receiving numerous queries from filmmakers looking to take advantage of Florida’s tax credit program.

Other productions in the pipeline for Florida are: A Dolphin’s Tale, produced by Alcon Entertainment (The Blind Side) and distributed by Warner Bros.; Transformers 3, directed by Michael Bay; sci-fi comedy Mad Science U; and a small independent film, Fifty Miles of Faith.

For more information, visit the Florida Film Commission’s website.

Slumdog Millionaire Director Wraps Up New Production in Utah

Remember Slumdog Millionaire? I saw it at least three times. Twice in the theater, and probably more than once on television when the movie finally came out on cable. Fair to say that Academy Award winner Director Danny Boyle had made one very poignant, unforgettable film. It went on to win eight Oscars in 2008.

This month, Mr. Boyle is back in the spot light wrapping up “127 Hours,” his latest film with Fox Searchlight Pictures, starring James Franco. The movie is based on the true heroic story of mountaineer Aron Ralston who in 2003 was hiking in Blue John Canyon, near Moab, UT, when he was trapped by an 800-pound boulder.

When it came time to decide on the filming location for the movie, Utah’s generous incentive and beautiful redrock desert quickly won over the producers at Fox Searchlight. Most of the filming of “127 Hours” took place in Moab, Green River, Sandy, Antelope Island, Tibble Fork Reservoir, Emigration Canyon, and Blue John Canyon, where the real event happened. The production created 150 jobs and earned $14 million for Utah. Not bad for 50 days of work!

Marshall Moore, Utah Film Commission director, disclosed that his agency “provided filmmakers with a post-performance tax credit worth $2.8 million, based on a 20 percent rebate for every dollar the production company spent in Utah.”

“Projects such as these benefit the state in so many different ways, with job creation for Utahns being one of the most important,” said Gov. Gary Herbert.

For me, I have no doubt “127 Hours” will be another one of Director Danny Boyle’s riveting, heartwrenching, memorable movies. But will it be nearly as good as “Slumdog”? We will see.

Our New Geocode Functionality

RS Geocode Functionality

As added value for Reel-Scout film offices, the Reel-Scout™ system now includes the ability to automatically generate geocodes (also known as the latitude and longitude) of a given location. When creating a new location, film office staff simply have to enter the location address and then click the “validate address” button on the Location Detail page. The Reel-Scout™ system will then pull the address information entered by the film office staff and generate the latitude and longitude from that address. If no address has been entered, the system will generate the latitude and longitude coordinates for the city or town in which the location sits.

Why is geocoding valuable? “Geocoding” is common on the web, for services such as finding driving directions to or from some address, or finding a list of the geographically nearest store or service locations. Geocoding is also one of several methods of obtaining geographic coordinates for geotagging media, such as photographs or RSS feeds. Having latitude and longitude values for your locations will allow you to pinpoint your locations and access all the geographic tools available (e.g., iPhone, Android and other mobile apps, directions, satellite maps, nearby facilities, etc.).

In preparation for the summer release of searchRS, Reel-Scout’s national database of locations, Reel-Scout staff will ensure that geocodes of all existing / legacy locations within each film office’s system are activated. Film offices will need to click the validate address button to generate latitude and longitude only for those locations added after June 1, 2010.

AFCI 2010 Locations Trade Show

AFCI 2010 Locations Trade Show

Each spring, we always look forward to attending the AFCI Locations Trade Show in Santa Monica, CA. This year was no exception. Hundreds of film offices and film commissions worldwide gathered once again at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium to showcase their stunning locations and best financial incentives.

We had three fun and productive days of catching-up with old friends and meeting new friends.

Thank you all so much for your friendship and support of Reel-Scout throughout the years!

Philadelphia’s Sharon Pinkenson as Keynote Speaker at YLD


Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, was the keynote speaker at the recent 2010 Annual Meeting of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Younger Lawyers Division (held on March 31, 2010).

As the leader of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office for the past 18 years, Sharon has played a major role in establishing the “golden age” of Philadelphia’s film industry.

You probably remember Tom Hank’s heart-wrenching performance in the movie Philadelphia in 1993, but did you also know that Philadelphia was the first movie to be filmed almost entirely in the City of Brotherly Love in over 60 years?

Since then, the City of Philadelphia has become one of Hollywood’s favorite filming locations. The long list of movies filmed in and around Philadelphia includes many well-known favorites such as the Rocky series, 12 Monkeys, Se7en, The Age of Innocence, Fallen, Beloved, Invincible, Live Free or Die Hard, Independence Day, Shooter, as well as some of the more recent films like Marley & Me, Law Abiding Citizen, The Lovely Bones, and Transformer: Revenge of the Fallen.

M. Night Shyamalan, Philadelphia’s “homegrown” movie director, is famous for filming and staging his movie plots in and around Philadelphia where he was raised. Shyamalan’s love for the city is evident in all of his work. His latest and highly-anticipated film The Last Airbender, as well as his previous films The Sixth Sense, The Village, Signs, and The Happening, all join the long list of movies filmed in or around Philadelphia.

In addition to movies, Philadelphia is also the filming location of many TV series among which are Fringe, Cold Case, and American Idol.

Sharon Pinkenson talked about Philadelphia’s current film industry during her speech to the YLD last month:

  • The film industry has been relatively immune to economic downturn.  In the past year, the industry accounted for 4000 jobs in the Philadelphia region.
  • Tax credits and lower costs are a big incentive to lure movies to be shot in Philadelphia.  Unfortunately, with the proposed state budget, these tax credits, along with most other tax credits, are taking a cut.
  • There is a currently-untitled tv pilot filmed in the city starring Jimmy Smits as a United States Supreme Court justice who leaves the bench to return to practice.  The show stands a good chance of getting picked up.
  • Finally, for anyone tired of being a lawyer and looking for a possible career in film, visit the GPFO’s website (film.org) for professional listings.

Reel-Scout is proud to join our client the Greater Philadelphia Film Office in celebrating the city’s ongoing success in the film industry.

For more details, read this article and check out the official website of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.

Ohio Film Office Selects Reel-Scout

Ohio Film Office website

The Ohio Film Office has selected Reel-Scout™ as its location and project management solution. In doing so, the Ohio Film Office becomes the 35th US state film office to choose Reel-Scout™.

Reel-Scout™ will provide a digital library as well as a contact, project, and crew management system, all of which will allow the office to refine current practices, respond quickly to inquiries, manage productions and better serve the local crew.

In partnership with the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission, the Greater Columbus Film Commission, and FilmDayton, the Ohio Film Office represents the State of Ohio.