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Oklahoma film industry bringing millions to the state

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 11:02:45-05

TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma is becoming a popular destination for the film industry.

“We’re ready to receive filmmakers of any size or scope," said Tava Maloy Sofsky, director of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office.

Sofsky said, in the past 10 years, the state hosted 140 productions partly thanks to the incentive plan it created in 2001. Sofsky said, in 2019, the state had a record 39 productions from the incentive program. The coronavirus pandemic slowed it down slightly last year with 33 productions. Those projects created more than 4,700 local jobs.

“Now what we’re seeing is more permanent infrastructure," Sofksy said. "And a deeper workforce because the state decided to invest in this industry.”

Bartlesville is one of the cities seeing a boost from the film industry. So far, three major movies have been made there. Now, it’s gearing up for production of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ with Leonardo DiCaprio this spring. With it, comes a lot of revenue for the city.

READ MORE: Virtual casting call for Martin Scorsese's 'Killers of The Flower Moon' film

“We’ve seen economic impact with some of our productions that is well over a million dollars because we know that they are causing that ripple effect in the community," said Maria Gus, executive director of Visit Bartlesville.

Sofsky said film projects brought Oklahoma $45 million in 2020. She said the 12 projects slated for 2021 so far are expected to bring in $150 million. Another 30 film productions are on a waiting list.

Much of the state’s success is thanks to the local crews.

“Their work ethic, I think, goes a long way," Sofsky said. "Filmmakers come and they work with them and they want to come back for repeat business. Our vendors, same thing. Just good quality of life.”

These films are not only bringing in revenue but also exposure and a chance to show off the Sooner State.

"It is so exciting to be able to share the good parts, the wonderful things, about your community, your city and your state with all of the world and this is just another way to do that," Gus said.

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