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January 16, 2014
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Film commission is shuttered

Calling it “a lost opportunity” the leader of the Northeast California Counties Film Commission said Thursday it will shut down due to lack of funding.

“I am deeply disappointed,” said Sam Jernigan, the commissioner of the shuttered nonprofit. “Film production is such an attractive economic sector, and it has the potential to be significantly lucrative.”

Jernigan pointed to the facilitation of six projects in the four-county region (covering Nevada, Butte, Sierra and Plumas counties) that generated about $170,000 in revenue for the region as an accomplishment, but said the funding was not there to keep the doors open.

“The provision of this core operating capital was critical for our organization’s existence, especially as all our services were provided free of charge to production companies and location scouts/managers, as is the industry norm,” Jernigan posted on the commission website.

The film commission, which was founded in the autumn of 2012, gave several presentations to public entities in the region in quest of financial support, including the Nevada County board of supervisors and the city councils of Nevada City and Grass Valley.

Drumming up support among key players in each of the four counties turned into a saga, Jernigan said.

In December 2012, the board of supervisors passed a resolution recognizing the film commission as a partner, but no dollars were dedicated as a result of the decision.

“It was a sequencing thing,” Jernigan said. “The cities held off because they wanted to see if the counties were in, and business owners weren’t going to be the first one to write a check.”

Hindering efforts further, the Internal Revenue Service dragged its feet on granting nonprofit status to the commission, meaning it was hindered in its attempts to apply for grants.

“It took the IRS 14 months to process our application and it should take a maximum of four months,” Jernigan said.

While the absence of start-up capital prevented the commission from getting up and running, Jernigan said she received positive feedback from the production community.

“We made a trip down to Los Angeles for an international location convention that is held every year,” she said.

“Producers were very excited that there was an area that was literally a one-hour plane ride away with such a diversity of geography. We got a good response right away.”

Robert Trent, founder of Sierra Commons, said the lack of funding dedicated by local public entities and economic development entities amounted to a penny-wise-and-pound-foolish approach.

“With a film commission fully engaged in our county and working with the economic development forces, we could have encouraged productions in our area with more contemporary content that might help attract a more diverse array of tourism to Nevada County,” Trent said.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

“Film production is such an attractive economic sector, and it has the potential to be significantly lucrative.”
Sam Jernigan
Northeast California Counties Film Commission


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The Union Updated Jan 16, 2014 10:52PM Published Jan 20, 2014 05:14PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.