Can San Angelo Become the Location for a Major Film or TV Series?
SAN ANGELO, TX — The San Angelo Conventions and Visitors Bureau was successful in getting the city of San Angelo listed on the statewide Texas Film Friendly list at the Texas Film Commission last year. This week, the Chamber of Commerce’s CVB director Diann Bayes announced San Angelo will host a film festival in 2020 to promote San Angelo as a city ready for the next TV show or feature film.
Becoming a Film Friendly community is a three-step certification process. A city representative must attend a Film Friendly Texas workshop, produce filming guidelines, and submit photographs of potential filming locations. The Texas Film Commission administers the program.
Getting on the Texas Film Friendly list can lead to oversized economic development benefits. The most noteworthy Texas film project is HGTV’s Fixer Upper television series filmed in Waco. Not only did the show create two Texas stars, Chip and Joanna Gaines, it also led to the rapid revitalization of downtown Waco. Fixer Upper’s Magnolia Market attracts an average of 30,000 visitors per week, according to the Texas Film Commission. That led to hotel occupancy rates that were ranked the second highest in the state during the 2nd quarter of 2017.
But Fixer Upper is an outlier. Other successes include NBC’s filming “American Ninja Warrior” in San Antonio. The two episodes filmed there attracted $3.5 million to the city during a 10-day shoot. NBC Universal filmed the show “Revolution” throughout the state in 2014, including in Palestine, Rusk, Austin, Bastrop, Blanco, Buda, Cedar Park, Granger, Lockhart, and Taylor.
Lockhart was the beneficiary of being the filming location of HBO’s “Leftovers” in 2016. The Film Commission estimates the economic impact was more than $30 million.
Next to Fort Hood, the Killeen area was the backdrop of Nat Geo’s TV miniseries “Long Way Home”, a show about the 2004 Iraq war battle of Sadr City based on the book by the same name written by journalist Martha Raddatz. The series required the TV producers to recreate the streets of Baghdad on Fort Hood. During the time of production, the set was the largest working movie set in North America, according to the Film Commission.
Can a major film or TV series be created in San Angelo?
Bayes hopes so, and to draw attention to San Angelo as a backdrop for the film industry, she partnered with James Christopher, the director of the popular Austin Revolution Film Festival to inaugurate a film festival here.
“We wanted to bring Texas movie directors and producers to San Angelo for a tour to showcase our community as film friendly. From that conversation, Jim suggested hosting a film festival. Several conversations later, the San Angelo Revolution Film Festival was born. We are fortunate to be able to utilize the existing Revolution name,” Bayes said.
Christopher will manage the submissions for the festival, while the CVB will manage the logistics, with the assistance of community volunteers.
Bayes leveraged the facilities at the new San Angelo Performing Arts Center. The initial scope for the festival is small and in the distant future, so the smaller, 400-seat Brooks and Bates Theatre is reserved. But the 1200-plus seat Murphey Performance Hall is located across the courtyard should attendance spike.
And it could happen.
“Currently, Austin Revolution Film Festival (ARFF) is the top reviewed film festival on Film Freeway and part of Movie Maker Magazines’ Top 50," Christopher confirmed. The Austin festival happens September 3-7 this year.
For San Angelo, Christopher intends to leverage the reputation of West Texas.
"What we'll bring to San Angelo is a slate of films made very much in the spirit of Texas: films made with grit, sweat and determination made in the face of an industry that doesn't want outsiders making movies. It's a true indie film revolution and we're excited to bring those films to beautiful San Angelo and help grow that indie film community there,” Christopher said.
The San Angelo film festival organizers are seeking sponsorships for the event in 2020. To learn more, contact Diann Bayes at the Chamber at (325) 655-4136. Here is the San Angelo Revolution Film Festival website.