by Paul de Revere
I’m a Tallahassean, born and raised. Proud of it, too. But I love some aspects of Tallahassee more than others. Game day traffic, Greeknightlife and going north of I-10? Not for me. But when I’m breathing in the same air as centuries-old trees at Maclay Gardens or snaking through the distinctly urban, close quarters of Gallie Alley, I’m reminded that Tallahassee is, to quote our friends at the Council of Culture and the Arts, “more than you thought.” Each spring, when the Tallahassee Film Festival (TFF) rolls through, it’s the most exciting time of the year in Tallahassee for me. When it gets to a fever pitch on April 8, 2010, there’s literally no other place in the world I’ll want to be.
There aren’t a ton of reasons to put “Tallahassee” and “cool” in the same sentence. If you know the parts of Tallahassee that are “cool,” chances are you’ve put a good bit of effort into seeking them out or you know just the right people. If you’re hailing from a northeastern big city, South Florida or other bigger cities in the South, it may very well surprise you how much of a destination city Tallahassee is.
And with TFF, Florida’s capital city is starting to realize there’s money and a stable economic force in culture. In this economic downturn, we’re taking stock in what can run consistently as an economic engine in our state. What’s “recession-proof?”
Film is recession-proof. People always want to see movies. It’s easy to forget that the arts and culture, when the chips are down, are only going to thrive. It seems impossible, but how else does an expensive, vast film like “Avatar” break multiple box-office records, grossing close to a billion dollars worldwide, during a recession? Its what people want: Some people want escapism, some a cheap night out for the whole family. But it’s also because the people behind films– artists and other creative professionals– thrive on creative solutions to tough problems and unusual circumstances.
Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, who represents the Tallahassee area, understands we need creative solutions to tough problems. She understands that Florida State University’s film school— one of the most prestigious in the nation, educating so much high-powered Hollywood talent who, in turn, bring film revenue back to our state— is an invaluable asset locally and to the state. She understands we need strong tax incentives for film and television programs to come to Florida, so the crews can stay in our hotels, eat our unique cuisine and film on our pristine beaches and slick cityscapes.
It’s not just Orlando, Tampa or Miami that benefits directly. North Florida gets in on the action, too. Wakulla Springs is an unspoiled oasis fit for films then and now. The recent HBO feature “Recount” almost literally took over downtown Tallahassee a few years back. And, of course, there’s the Tallahassee Film Festival, which receives generous Film Florida grants in addition to the incredible sponsors we have from our local area.
With that kind of support, the Tallahassee Film Festival is an economically sustainable economic engine for the state and for the local community. It’s environmentally sustainable, it brings the community together, and it’s very, very cool.
Personally, for me, it’s inspired pride and staying power for me in my fair hometown. I love the Tallahassee Film Festival with all my heart, and I hope to see you there… in the dark.