March 23, 2009

New group aims to draw media attention to Arenac County


ARENAC COUNTY — Under fairly new legislature passed in Michigan, tax breaks following strict guidelines for production costs have been established to benefit the state's economy, and a new committee in Arenac County is attempting to ensure Arenac County isn’t left in the dust when it comes to enticing media productions to the Sunrise Side.

Arenac County District V Commissioner Joseph Sancimino, acting independently, not as commissioner, has begun to seek out people for the initiative through word of mouth.

"There's a couple of us that are starting this initiative," Sancimino said. "The idea is for this group to act as a clearinghouse for Arenac County to the [media].”

He says he's looking into registering the Arenac County Media Initiative Committee with a group based in Grand Rapids that meets in Lansing with contacts in Hollywood.

"What you do is you register with this group and promote your area as a site for motion pictures," Sancimino said. "We (initiative) would position ourselves as an outlet for information about the area.

"We'd like to start probably with a children's film festival," the commissioner said, adding he would possibly look to West Branch's film initiative, which was established approximately a year ago, as a resource.

"There's a lot of fishing shows, too, so we're going to look into bringing more of those to the area on the bay," Sancimino added.

He also says the group may hold a seminar or workshop in the near future but would hold off until a formal committee is formed.

"Right now we're just going by word of mouth, looking for interested people," Sancimino said, adding the initiative isn't just for films. "We're focusing on all media - films, radio, T.V."

He explains Arenac could see positive benefits from media interest in the future, but how soon is a mystery.

"You have to be sitting at the table to eat dinner," Sancimino said. "Right now, we're not even invited to dinner."

He alluded to West Branch's initiative starting as nothing and becoming as successful as it has, adding he believes it probably won't be long before West Branch has its own film crew.

"The big picture (of a local film crew) is to act as a middleman for [media producers]," he said. "We would hook them up with electricians or hotels or anything they needed.

"We'd like to have an annual film festival and be in line with systems for all media."

After a committee is officially formed, Sancimino says it would allow the group to pursue grant opportunities for funding.

"We don't have any funding right now, so that would be the next step," Sancimino said. "I'm excited, and I think we could have something in Arenac County in the next few years.

"We're looking for anyone with experience or expertise or knowledge or just anyone who wants to be involved. This could help boost tourism as show off Arenac."

Currently, plans are in the works for the Arenac County Media Initiative Committee to conduct a competition for area talent to submit five-minute spots promoting the county. If the proper channels approve, the winning spot may be aired during the program “1 Big Fish,” a fishing show which is shooting at the Eagle Bay Marina in July and allowing the county five minutes of air time for promotional purposes.


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