Promoting film, TV in Vermont

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@manchesterjournal.com

MANCHESTER — Vermont has plenty of natural splendor and photogenic small towns and villages that would look great on either the big or the small screen.

But it hasn't had a state film commission — a central resource dedicated to promote its advantages and resources to the entertainment industry.

It does now.

The Vermont Production Council — which is not affiliated with state government — says it will introduce itself and the natural and financial advantages of shooting and producing shows, films and commercials in Vermont with a short film that will premiere at ITVFest on Oct. 11 through 15.

"What we're hoping for first and foremost is to give people an idea of what it is," said Raea Benjamin, a marketing coordinator at Mountain Media who is working with VPC. "Secondly, we want to promote the idea that producing in Vermont is something you can do and you can do it for a lot cheaper."

While some films such as "Baby Boom" have been famously shot in Vermont, others have used other locations as stand-ins for the Green Mountain State. The upcoming sequel "Super Troopers II," for example, used Massachusetts locations rather than Vermont locales.

The VPC has already compiled an online directory of Vermont companies, individuals, and locations already available and ready to work with film productions. Others who would like to be listed in the directory are welcome to contribute, the group said in a news release.

"There are already a number of productions filming throughout the year who have taken advantage of the people of Vermont's entrepreneurial attitude," ITVFest executive director and VPC member Philip Gilpin Jr. said in the news release. "The support of the festival by the local business community like our presenting sponsor, The Vermont Country Store, has also been driven by a long-term outlook and the goal to attract more productions to the area."

The film that will premiere at ITVFest is called "The Land," and it was created by Velocity Media for "for the express purpose of demonstrating the ease with which all necessary services, locations, and equipment can be attained for filming," according to a news release from the VPC.

According to the group, "The Land" was shot for less than half of what the same production would have cost in New York or Los Angeles.

Ron Lissak, a member of the VPC board, was the executive producer, lining up shooting locations and cast members for the short film.

"It was a great, great experience. People couldn't have been more willing to give up their property for shooting," Lissak said.

Shooting locations included Helmholz Fine Art (playing the role of a New York art gallery) and Ron and Marcia Lissak's home in Winhall (standing in for a New York City apartment).

Membership on the council includes Gilpin; Vermont native actor/producer Kevin Chap; area EMT and former actress and stuntwoman Christie Mackenzie; Vermont Media Alliance president Jennifer Rutherford; State Rep. Brian Keefe, Carolyn Blitz, Marcia Lissak and Meredith Whatley of Mountain Media; Nicholas, Cathleen and Nicole Ihasz of Raptor Films; Dorset Inn co-owner Steve Bryant; consultant Ron Lissak; attorney Patricia Nelson, Greater Northshire Access Television executive director Tammie Reilly and Dr. Joel Sherman, founder of The Mill in East Arlington.

The new entity is sponsoring the main function tent at ITVFest. It will be open to the public and will offer a lounge area, music, games, food and beverages on the front lawn of the Hampton Inn and Suites on Main Street.

Reach Journal editor Greg Sukiennik at 802-490-6000.

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