This past week, the Mayor's new film and music advisory committee got together formally for the first time. With a 16-member compliment, the group is an impressive collection of people from Tulsa's music, film and business communities; people who have been involved in the production of major films, in local TV and videography and in the management of some stellar Tulsa-based/originating performing talent.
And the new committee benefits from the energetic involvement of City Councilor/panel member Blake Ewing -- who twice made it clear that the group ought to "bake-in" a very strong conception of where they want Tulsa to be in the film/music world five or more years hence. The first meeting evolved rightly around what a local music/film advisory body ought to do and be about. Blake, acting together with Tulsa Young Professional chief Brian Paschal as a co-moderator, outlined several general objectives for the body:
Acting as a showcase/promo agent for local music and filmmakers, their products and prospects;
Leading efforts to craft better T-town networking opportunities for music and filmmakers from Tulsa and for folks who may elect to come to Tulsa to make music or films;
A catalyst and resource port for film/music professionals and new comers to these lines -- a "warehouser" of databases and other talent assets for film/music production;
A vehicle for matching graduates and prospective students from secondary and higher-ed schools in film/music and related lines to T-town opportunities;
A point of contact for crafting novel public-private financing efforts, discount supply/support efforts and other avenues to ratchet up Tulsa's production of film and music product and the professional needed to create them.
These are good things: all are consistent with nurturing a strategic, high-yield sector (film/music) that could, if we supply the chutzpah, political capital and imagination, be a surprisingly central to Tulsa's future. But once the 16 members have the time get up to speed, let's hope they are open to attending to these basics while looking at novel stuff that could make a truly dramatic difference to film/music kinetics in Tulsa.
One avenue that didn't get any discussion at the meeting is the burgeoning role that interactive/video/computer games play in our emerging entertainment world. Tulsa has a handful of video game companies and some talented folks in this arena; it's important to know that "interactive" is now a larger part of the entertainment industry than music and film. UTW readers surely know that interactive games are ensemble magic that require musicians, oftimes live video/film shots and an incredible array of computer programming, human interface work and the same story telling talents that make for propulsive music and powerful films. Here is what a recent "wiki" entry for the video/interactive game industry outlined:
"The U.S. video game industry boomed in the early 2000s and became one of the leading forms of entertainment in terms of total revenue. Presently, the industry is at around $22 billion for 2008 (conservative estimate) in the US and $30 to $40 billion globally. Here is how it compares with other entertainment industries.
Music industry -- $10.4 billion (US 2008) and $30 to $40 billion globally
Movie industry -- $9.5 billion (US) and $27 billion globally
Book industry -- $35.69 billion (US 2007) and roughly $63 billion globally
DVD industry -- $23 billion (US) (buying $16B, renting $7B)
It (interactive) surpassed the U.S. movie and music industry in 2005 and 2007 respectively.
In the 2008, the UK industry blew past the music industry and is expected top DVD sales in the near future."
Reader can go to the site directly: http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Video_game_industry
While a new body charged with making Tulsa a more powerful player and in film and music world can't take on everything, one could argue pretty strongly that "interactive" works and artist/firms connected to them ought to be an integral part of the mission of the new committee -- even in its early stage.
But including the interactive arena is just one element of a broader agenda, and as I tried to outline in an earlier musing on the work of the new advisory panel, a carefully crafted, ambitious and thoughtful local film music and entertainment initiative needs to be a leapfrog initiative.
Jonesing on about our long, legendary and very inventive role in music production, whether it's in the Blues, Gospel, Folk or Country, is a better gambit, but even there we are competing with other folks that can make similar claims. So the road ahead, the path that might lead to a successful, genuinely high-yield local entertainment "push" initiative surely entails a breakout initiative or a bundle of such efforts.
UTW's film guru J. O'Shansky has highlighted the vital importance of local film festivals in fueling film/music development. Last year's Tulsa International Film Festival was a great effort that needs to be replicated every year and supported tangibly and aggressively by the City, the downtown community and the Metro Chamber;
Here are other candidates that yours truly and other souls have in mind:
Advanced Physical Modeling and Prototyping
Tiny and not so tiny physical models -- think the ship fleets in the film Troy or some of the planes in Red Tails, can be crafted using the novel new fabrication and "rapid prototyping" technologies at the core of Tulsa's Fab Lab, at 9th and Lewis -- a new "micro factory" and at the Helmerich Advanced Materials Center at OSU/Tulsa downtown;
Special Effects, Digital and "Performance" Animation
I've written at some length about a supercomputing project as a game-changing project in T-town. And it might give us peerless company retention, project attraction and a Tulsa bright kid "boomerang" cred unlike any seen in these parts. The Oklahoma Institute for Innovation effort is called the Tulsa Community Supercomputer.
"Supers" have been used traditionally for nuclear weapons simulation, seismic exploration, particle physics, aerospace prototyping and climate modeling -- they have been and will be used big time increasing in classic and animated filmmaking. Having a publicly available "Super" could give Tulsa artists, special effects specialty firms, animators and directors/film makers a wild card advantage in our region. There is a grand opportunity to use Tulsa's soon to be available Community Supercomputer for special effects, digital animation and hybrid work that includes music, video, interactive games and related projects.
And few cities are targeting this arena. Moreover, Oklahoma Innovation Institute has a tentative plan to mount a supercomputing training initiative, possibly linked to TCC -- so we have excellent potential for an advanced animation and special effect initiative like few others in the U.S.
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