Oklahoma is a hidden gem in the film and television industry
As filmmaker Martin Scorcese directs the biggest movie ever to shoot in Oklahoma, right outside Bartlesville, Ginifer Ree wants people to know that the film industry was already big in the state long before production began on “Killer of the Flower Moon”.
“The film industry was booming in Oklahoma before Scorcese came here. In fact, that’s why he’s here,” she said. “We have a lot of talent in the state and there are a lot of people doing great things.”
Ree, who lives in Ochelata, has played roles in several films shot in Oklahoma. The latest is “Alejandro”, who currently performs at Circle Cinema and Eton Square 6 Cinema in Tulsa. It is also available on Amazon Prime.
“This is a true story and everything was filmed in Oklahoma including Tulsa, Claremore and Rogers County,” Ree said.
About 250 Oklahomais participated in the making of “Alejandro”, which tells the story of a poor Mexican wrongly accused of murder and the black African lawyer who represents him pro bono.
“There are so many great players in Oklahoma,” she said. “People say, ‘Well, they’re not A-listers,’ and I’m like, ‘No, but they have better IMDB ratings than most A-listers.’
Garrett O’Brien is an actor, writer and producer who moved to Sooner State from Escondido, California. He lives in Bartlesville.
“When you hear Oklahoma, the movie industry isn’t the first thing you think of,” he said. “But the film industry is huge here.”
Richard Janes, president of the Oklahoma Motion Picture Alliance, agrees, noting that the industry is ripe for continued increased growth in the state.
He mentions recent productions such as “Killers of the Flower Moon”, currently filming in Tulsa and Pawhuska; Oscar nominated “Minari,” which filmed in Tulsa; “Wildlife” by Jake Gyllenhaal, which filmed at Enid in 2018, and the FX series “Reservation Dogs”, which recently wrapped filming in Tulsa and Okmulgee.
“For years, Oklahoma’s film and television industry has been a major employer statewide,” Janes said. “With recent international attention to the state, now is a good time to organize as an industry and make a clear advocacy to propel television and film into a leading industry employing the next generation of Oklahoma. . ”
Ree says one of the draws for Hollywood filmmakers is the Oklahoma Film Improvement Rebate Program, which offers up to 37% cash back on eligible Oklahoma expenses. for film and television productions shot in the state.
“The industry was taking off before the pandemic hit, but Hollywood is still closed because of it. We’re open, so they’re coming here,” she said.
In fact, Janes said her organization has led the way in ensuring COVID-19 protocols are in place so that productions can continue in Oklahoma safely and without incident.
“Oklahoma’s investment in sound sets, post-production houses and crew training – even after the COVID-19 strike – has led to productions like ours in the state,” said Sean McNamara, who directed “Reagan,” a biopic on former President Ronald Reagan starring Dennis Quaid and Penelope Ann Miller. It was shot in Guthrie last October.
But even more than the COVID-19 hospitality and accommodations, it’s like Hollywood is discovering Oklahoma as the perfect place to film.
“People outside of Oklahoma just don’t realize how great there is here,” O’Brien said. “As more and more productions arrive here, we meet people from LA and New York who tell us they never realized how nice people are here.”
Then there are the landscapes. Aside from beaches and palm trees, he said the state has almost everything California has to offer, including sand dunes, rivers, hills, lakes, mountains, woods and forests.
Ree said: “I know a lot of people in Hollywood who say, ‘It’s like a whole different world here. “They tell me shooting here makes it fun to make movies again.”
In fact, a lot of Hollywood is moving to Oklahoma, including Lawrence Moran, an actor, writer, director and producer known for his work in “Two Broke Girls”, “Sons of Anarchy” and “Straight Outta Compton”. As the creator and executive producer of “1921: Black Wall Street,” Moran has since moved to Tulsa, she said.
Ree even formed his own production company, Silver Moon Productions, and is in pre-production for “Crossfire” and “Time Girl”.
“There’s a lot going on in Oklahoma – since the bill was passed in particular – but even before the bill was passed,” she said. “Everyone is here and they have been here. People just don’t know it.”
Late last month, Gov. Kevin Stitt enacted Senate Bill 608, known as the Filmed in Oklahoma Act of 2021, which Ree says will give the film industry an extra boost. the state.
The bill more than tripled the incentive cap from $ 8 million to $ 30 million per fiscal year, which will go a long way in attracting even more film and television productions to Oklahoma.
In turn, there will be more jobs available for Oklahomans.
“We have a lot of stuff going on here in the industry. I mean, we’re busy,” Ree said. “Nobody really knows that. I think it would be nice if our neighbors knew that.”