Every once in a while a major film project comes to the Nashville area and gets people talking about the film industry in town. This time the film is The Green Mile, a Castle Rock Entertainment project starring Tom Hanks that has set up production offices in Music City. The adaptation of Stephen King’s serial novel, directed by Frank Darabont (who made The Shawshank Redemption and did uncredited rewrite work on Saving Private Ryan), is scheduled to begin filming mid-month.
The sad part is that once the film wraps and leaves our fair city, most people will automatically assume anyone who works in the local film industry will be unemployed. Unemployed, that is, until the next project ventures outside Hollywoodeven if it’s only to shoot a few scenes in Nashville, as Wag the Dog did last year. (Most people don’t even know that the Wag the Dog soundtrack, by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame, was recorded here last year at Ocean Way Nashville.)
Well my friend, it ain’t like that. Nashville’s film industry is alive and well. If you travel down Music Row on any given day, past scores of unassuming production and post-production houses, chances are you’re unaware of projects being worked on for the likes of ABC, Fox Kids World, and Warner Bros. At his 615 Music studios on 16th Avenue South, Randy Wachtler is constantly working on music for the A&E Channel, Discovery Channel, and NBC. Deaton Flanigen Productions has worked on projects like ABC’s Monday Night Football and NBC’s Sunset Beach, and it’s currently working on a new music video for Giant recording artists The Wilkinsons with producer Tamera Brooks. NFL Productions, by the way, was recently in town shooting a half-time spot for Monday Night Football with Willie Nelson.
The first Friday of every month, a large percentage of Nashville’s film community congregates at a local production facility to share a drink, some food, and a lot of ideas. The studio’s general manager, an all-around good guy, opens his door to everyone, offering a place for directors, producers, writers, and more a chance to catch up on each other’s latest projects, talk about issues facing the community, and share ideas. It’s a pretty casual atmosphere, but it speaks volumes about the film community in town and how it has grown over the past 10 years.
Most people are unaware of how much film and video production takes place in townnot every year, but every week. The players range from small boutique studios like NuNoyz Sound Design, which works on sound for Warner Bros. animated features, to larger companies like Picture Vision and Jon Small, whose most current project is shooting the Janet Jackson concert that aired last weekend on HBO. (Yes, that’s Janet, no relation to Alan.) Tom Davis of SeisMic Sound has not only mixed shows for Picture Vision and High Five Entertainment, including this year’s Dove Awards, but also the VH-1 Fashion Awards. Davis just moved his gear to Speer Communications headquarters, where he’s sweetening the America’s Dumbest Criminals series.
Each and every week, there are shoots for music videos (not just country, either), industrial videos, commercials, EPK’s (electronic press kits put out to promote a label’s artists), and independent films. Most of you would be surprised to know how many companies in Nashville make a living working in and supporting the film industry in Nashville. Now that the community is coming together to share its ideas and visions, it’s only going to grow.
Like any industry in town, it has problems and hurdles to cross. But there is nothing second-rate about many of the projects coming out of Nashville these days. Projects like Faith Hill’s “This Kiss” video, which won director Steven Goldmann of The Collective a CMA Award this year for Best Video. The visual graphics done by Ben and Brian at Invisible Inc. and the editing done at Ground Zero are second to none. Picture Vision brought home seven national Emmy nominations this year, including ones for best show and best direction for their work on Garth Brooks’ live concerts from Dublin and Central Park
This is an exciting time for Nashville’s film community, and if you’re not interested in what’s going on, you should be. Because all indications are that it won’t be long before they’ll have to change our name to “Music (& Film) City.”
Got a project you’re working on? E-mail Bill Filipiak at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or fax the info to 254-4743.
So long Don. Your creative energy and encouragement were inspirational to me.
It was so great being one of those kids in Dayton.
I miss Iodine.
^ It's nice to see an official acknowledgement by management. Kristen Mcarther Miles (the girl…
How ironic that "Vandy radio" gets resurrected as a fictional station?! I was just glad…
Wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.