It was a huge loss for the metro's filming community when the city forced the Kansas City Film Office to shut down.
That was a decade ago. Now, the office could come back if one casting director gets her way.
Heather Laird, president of Kansas City Film Commission, is urging Kansas City Mayor Sly James and the City Council to restore a city film office.
If it doesn't happen, she says Kansas City could be losing out on the production of major films and big money.
"Hundreds of millions of dollars a year are spent in Kansas City on production, and that is primarily commercial production, some television production corporate internet, that sort of thing. It is big business in Kansas City," Laird said.
Laird said it could be even bigger, but there is no film office.
"There is no one there to answer the phone when someone calls and says, 'America's Got Talent wants to shoot in your city,'" she said.
For the past 10 years, Laird and other volunteers have answered those calls.
"And I'm not a professional film commissioner. I'm a casting director," she said.
A professional film commissioner is a full-time job.
"We can't do much more than answer the phone or answer the emails. We can't market Kansas City, which is a huge part of what a film commissioner does," Laird said.
And according to her, Kansas City is missing out on some big opportunities.
"In 2013, we lost a $12 million film to Atlanta. Not only that, a very cool movie. It is called The Good Lie, and you'll be hearing about it in December. There's already Oscar buzz about the film, and it is not even out yet," Laird said.
The real kick in the gut is that half of the movie takes place in Kansas City, but was shot in Atlanta.
She said Missouri's film tax credit, which fizzles out in November, had nothing to do with the decision because that movie would have qualified.
"It is about not having someone out there six months before that to sort of see what's going on in Hollywood and saying, 'Oh, that's a movie that should shoot in our city.' That is part of the job of a film commissioner," she said.
Ten years ago Kansas City funded a film office.
At it's peak, it lured in major motion pictures and employed two full-time workers on a $200,000 annual budget.
When the economy took a dive, the city cut the office.
"The climate is very different now. Among other things, we have a mayor who is very arts friendly. He established the Mayors Task Force For The Arts. They've been commissioned to research and talk to the community about what is missing in the arts in Kansas City," she said.
For Laird, the film office is a missing piece.
"Realize, we're talking about a $100 million at least business a year, and it is business. It is not just the arts," Laird said.
The Film Commission of Greater Kansas City is doing informal research to study the size of production in Kansas City.
It is reaching out to the metro's top corporations, production companies and photographers for an estimate of their basic yearly production numbers to gauge the impact on the city.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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