Darrah Meeley, executive director of the Nashville Film Office, the city film commission, announced that she is leaving the post after three years to pursue other interests in the film industry. Meeley made the announcement at a meeting of the Nashville Film & Video Association last week. In the meantime, Vicki Oglesby, a special assistant to Mayor Phil Bredesen and a liaison between the mayor’s office and the city film commission, has been appointed interim executive director.
A 17-year film-industry veteran, Meeley arrived in Nashville from L.A. in 1993 to head the new city film office and raise the city’s visibility in the movie industry. Toward that end, she tried everything from trade-publication ads and overseas jaunts to personally distributing Nashville T-shirts and promotional material at festivals, trade shows and film expos. “She did a very good job of marketing Nashville,” Oglesby says of her predecessor. “If you’ve ever met Darrah, you know what a great salesman she is. She had so many contacts.”
During Meeley’s years as executive director, several high-profile film and TV projects were shot in Nashville, including the Sharon Stone vehicle Last Dance, the Ann-Margret TV movie Following Her Heart, and the Reba McEntire telefilm Is There Life Out There? Meeley attracted a number of projects personally, including a three-hour live QVC broadcast from the Ryman Auditorium. Yet rumors of friction over jurisdictional matters between the state and city film commissions dogged her tenure from her first week in office. Sources at the state film commission pooh-pooh the rift.
“We will be 100 percent supportive of Vicki, just as we were of Darrah,” says state film commissioner Marsha Blackburn. “When it comes to cities, [the city film commissions] take the lead. We serve as the backup. We really view this as a team effort, and we are very privileged to be a member of the team supporting the film and entertainment industry.”
However, when asked whether the state film commission would handle more of the recruitment for film projects in Nashville, Oglesby refuses to rule out the possibility. “I wouldn’t think so, but there are very strong things they do, and that might be one of them,” Oglesby says. “Right now, I’m just trying to let the dust settle.”
Meeley could not be reached for comment at press time. A spokesperson for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce says, however, that Meeley told NFVA members she felt she had accomplished everything she had intended in the job.
Action auteur David Heavener, whose low-budget Silver Lake International productions have made him a star in mayhem-starved European and Asian markets, will be in Nashville in mid-June to screen his newest opus, Innocent Target, for the public and at a private industry gathering. Reminiscent of the John Woo/Jean-Claude Van Damme thriller Hard Target, Innocent Target stars Heavener as an advertising executive forced to play the quarry for hunters who stalk human beings. The movie costars Chris Mitchum, William Windom and skater-turned-actress Lynn-Holly Johnson from Ice Castles.
The California-based Heavener, who writes, produces, directs and stars in his action melodramas, will announce filming of his next feature in Nashville. In addition to the two screenings of Innocent Target, he’ll conduct a filmmaking seminar here later in the month. Watch for more information. In the meantime, for a taste of Heavener’s talents, scour the video shelves for Killcrazy, which includes among its cast members Burt “Robin” Ward and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs.
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