If you find yourself wondering what items the longest serving film commissioner in the world has in her domain, step into Linn Sitler’s world at the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission. The office at 496 S. Main Street has walls covered with pictures, and shelves of memorabilia galore. Posters from highly acclaimed films are lined up neatly in rows.
Hustle and Flow, The Firm, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and many others point to Sitler’s role in Memphis’ film industry.
The Commission is not a trade group or an arts organization — it’s all about economic development. “We promote vendors and businesses that would be hired by local productions,” she says, “whether they are here from out of town or indigenous productions. Our online directory has all the categories of anything that might be needed, like crew. We don’t list actors, but we do list the talent agencies that represent them.”
Sitler runs the Commission with Sharon O’Guin, the deputy commissioner. “We have a thriving independent film community,” says Sitler, “and an expanded role working with the local indigenous community.” The Commission has developed a new set of grants for local filmmakers. “We’ve come up with a trial program that both city and county mayors have agreed to support. Then we worked with Reid Dulberger [president and CEO of the Economic Development Growth Engine] to come up with this proposal, and had feedback from local filmmakers to see exactly what they wanted. For this incentive, you have a minimum spend of $30,000 and you have to hire 70 percent local. This is so we can drum up local business and allow our talent to develop their skills further.
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