Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, was elected chairwoman of the new national film commission, Film U.S., during the organization’s first formal meeting in Washington, D.C.
As her primary goal, Keezer pledged to keep the American film industry at home, a task of increasing urgency now that many productions are forsaking Hollywood and other U.S. locations for cheaper places abroad.
“I’m excited and thrilled by the challenge of giving this industry a voice at the national level,” she said. “This is our industry. Having it film anyplace else is unacceptable.”
In addition to Keezer, the newly established board of directors includes Entertainment Industry Development Corp. president Cody G. Cluff as first vice chairman; Illinois Film Office director Ron Ver Kuilen, second vice chair; Minnesota Film Board exec director Randy Adamsick, secretary; and Virginia Film Office director Rita McClenny, treasurer.
Film U.S. describes itself as an advocacy group committed to making the United States more film-friendly, which, according to Keezer, means streamlining the federal bureaucracy, cutting red tape and supporting financial incentives to make it easier for film producers to shoot in the U.S.
Last week, Film U.S. set up a 24-hour hotline to provide filmmakers with information and assistance on production-related problems, particularly in their dealings with federal agencies. The toll-free number, (877) 434-5687, will be linked to a 24-hour pager service during non-business hours.
“Filmmakers roll film 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Keezer said. “We need to be there when they call, whether it’s 2 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning.”
Film U.S. brings together almost 200 film commissioners from across the country.