Shawnee creates film, music office within tourism department

Vicky O. Misa
The Shawnee News-Star

This week, Shawnee City Commissioners voted to approve Tourism Director Stacy Cramer Moore's recommendation to create a film and music office within the tourism department.

“The film industry is booming in Oklahoma,” she said Monday. “In 2019, 22 films were shot in Oklahoma resulting in $9.3 million spent in Oklahoma, and $4.3 million in wages.”

She said 35 movies were filmed in Oklahoma ion 2020 — despite the pandemic — including the first Oscar-nominated feature shot in-state — Minari.

“Communities of similar size and demographics have landed major, multi-million dollar film deals,” Moore said. “Shawnee has been scouted by films and television series of all sizes.”

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A small project in the business is a budget less than $7.5 million, she said.

Businesses that benefit from film locating in the community include many large and small businesses across a wide range of sectors, she said, such as hair stylists, accountants, truck drivers, hotels, carpenters, tailors, restaurants and others.

A City of Shawnee sign displayed at Harrison and Interstate 40.

Moore said Shawnee is working through the processes of receiving the film-friendly community designation from the Oklahoma Film and Music Office. The criteria are as follows:

• Designate a point of contact for film projects.

• Load at least twelve locations to okfilmmusic.com (complete)

• Establish a film permitting process

For more information, visit https://okfilmmusic.org/.

At this point, she said establishment of the Shawnee Film and Music Office will be a placeholder for future development.

“No funds or additional staff are tied to the designation,” she said. “The formation of the Shawnee Film and Music Office will increase our chances of landing film projects which are looking for communities that are ready and have established procedures and best practices.”

One of the purposes of the office is that it establishes a lead contact in Shawnee, which Moore will serve as until additional staff is necessary.

A city ordinance requiring film registration for commercial filming is a part of becoming designated as a film-friendly community.

“A film location crew (would) meet with a representative of the Shawnee Film and Music Office to discuss the overall scope of the film and need for additional permits,” Moore said.

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Those permit processes are already in place.

“Film Office staff (would) coordinate with other department heads to process any required permits, streamline communications and assist with ensuring the health and safety of both citizens of Shawnee and our film industry guests,” she said.

The concept is not a pie-in-the-sky, she said.

“It's happening to our neighbors right now,” Moore said.

Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of the ordinance.

Watch for updates.

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.