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Film Incentives Recruit First Feature Film

Friday, September 14, 2007 | 05:28am

NASHVILLE/MEMPHIS --The Tennessee Film, Entertainment & Music Commission, along with the Memphis and Shelby County Film Commission, is pleased to announce that “Nothing But the Truth”, a motion picture starring Matt Dillon, Kate Beckinsale, Edie Falco, Vera Farmiga and Alan Alda, and written/directed by award-winning filmmaker Rod Lurie, has started preproduction and will feature locations in Memphis as well as several surrounding counties.

“Nothing But the Truth”, a Battle Plan Productions project, is a thriller about a news reporter being held on contempt of court charges which was inspired in part by the CIA leak case involving outed agent Valerie Plame and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

The film is a collaboration between Lurie and The Yari Film Group, which is one of the most successful independent film companies in Hollywood today with over 30 films produced in the last three years.  “Nothing But the Truth” was considering many other states for this project, South Carolina in particular, and based their decision on film incentives, specific locations and the willingness of the state and local officials to accommodate their production.

The commission had been recruiting the project since early 2007, when James Spies, “Nothing But the Truth” producer and Tennessee resident, met with Perry Gibson, Executive Director of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment & Music Commission, to discuss the possibility of shooting a remake of “Straw Dogs” in Tennessee in 2008. Perry learned that James was also working with Rod Lurie on other productions and wanted to simultaneously recruit these additional projects to Tennessee. Gibson then met with Lurie and Spies in California to discuss the other projects and “Nothing But the Truth” came up.  Although this production is set in suburban Washington, Gibson was confident that it could be shot in Tennessee.

A total of four days were spent showcasing the locations that multiple cities in Tennessee had to offer.  But when Lurie and Spies arrived in Memphis it became clear that they would be shooting the film there.  The entire town appeared to be welcoming the project to their city and making sure it was clear that Memphis wanted the project to be filmed there. Local production office space was even offered for no cost by one local businessman.

It was truly a team effort to recruit the production, with contributions from the Tennessee Film, Entertainment & Music Commission staff, the Memphis and Shelby County Film Commission, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Kisber, Department of Revenue Commissioner Farr and Assistant Commissioner Payne, and Finance and Administration Commissioner Goetz.

This will be the first production to take advantage of both incentives available to production companies and so everyone was interested in this multi-million dollar production company filming in the State.  Not only will “Nothing But the Truth” take full advantage of the State’s incentives which offer a possible total 32% cash rebate of the qualified Tennessee spend, but they will also be the first production to take advantage of a new program organized by the Memphis and Shelby county governments in which half of the salaries of local residents working on the film as trainees will be paid by the local program.

“Nothing But the Truth” understood very early in the recruitment process that the foundation of Tennessee’s film incentive is all the hiring and development of Tennessee residents.  Recently, Lurie described “Nothing But the Truth” as a “local production” that will hire numerous Memphis-area residents as crew members, extras and supporting actors.  He stated, “I’m honestly convinced that much of my talent will be found not just within Tennessee, but within Memphis.  I never thought for a second that I would shoot in Tennessee or even Memphis when I wrote ‘Nothing But the Truth.’  But the State of Tennessee has seen the wisdom of bringing film into it’s borders and we are all going to win on this one.”

Lurie also directed “The Last Castle” starring Robert Redford and James Gandolfini, which filmed in Nashville in 2001.  Lurie recently completed production on “Resurrecting the Champ”, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett, Teri Hatcher, Harry J. Lennix, Alan Alda and Rachel Nichols.

The Tennessee Film, Entertainment & Music Commission is also currently in discussion with at least 15 other film projects and three television series with a combined potential in-state spend of approximately $40 million working with the Film Commission in hopes of taking advantage of the incentive fund. This comes along with the headquarters incentive which has already lured Vineyard Productions and Firefly Productions to Tennessee. Vineyard Productions has several feature film projects already in the works, while Firefly Productions has signed contracts to produce both a television special and a feature film in the State.

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