Trimark has ridden to the rescue, flying execs to Arkansas this past weekend and settling accounts for some $ 105,000 in unpaid bills related to the recent six-week shoot of feature film “Frank and Jesse.”
“Even though we feel these problems were not Trimark’s responsibility, we wanted to get in there, assess the situation and bring some resolve,” said Andrew Hersh, Trimark’s senior veepee of production.
The film, starring Rob Lowe, Bill Paxton and Randy Travis, is a Trimark negative pickup.
The situation had been simmering for several weeks (Daily Variety, March 14) after indie company Lone Star Prods. did extensive filming in Arkansas, especially in the city of Van Buren. City officials claimed the production company offered to donate $ 8,000 to two city projectsin return for merchants agreeing to close shop and allow 40 truckloads of dirt to be brought in to cover cement sidewalks.
The company abruptly left town without paying bills to contractors or making the donation, and allegedly leaving historic buildings damaged.
“We’re now pretty well pleased that everybody is going to be paid and compensated for letting them use the town,” noted William Buck, director of the Arkansas Motion Picture Office. “These two Trimark executives made the commitment in front of everyone in town.”
Hersh admitted that he was “apprehensive” about what kind of reception he would get in a town meeting. “But we wanted to show we’re not a big, bad Hollywood company,” he said. “It’s a beautiful state, after all, and we’d like to be able to film there again.”
Whether Arkansas will welcome back film companies is another matter.
Winning back trust
“We’ve spent the better part of the last 12 years trying to educate people in this state about supporting filming work,” Buck said. “Now we have to try and rebuild that confidence.
“For my own part, I would not hesitate to bring production in here again, but I think any company that wants to film here will have a little bit of a hurdle to overcome,” Buck said. “They’ll probably have to come up with front-end money. But now I believe it was all a series of miscommunications between our state, Lone Star Prods. and Trimark.”
Blame it on the weather
Hersh said the problems arose when indie company Lone Star “got themselves in over their heads,” with weather problems, finances, etc.
“It was just an unfortunate incident,” Hersh said.