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TOP 100 Edition

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Top 100 Spotlight Award: Fort Worth Film Commission

Lights! Camera! Fort Worth!

There are many reasons to visit Fort Worth, and many in the entertainment industry have figured this out.

As a result of their success in putting Fort Worth on the map of the entertainment world – and tourists in general – Visit Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Film Commission were chosen by the Fort Worth Business Press to be honored with the “Top 100 Spotlight Award” for 2021.

The name of the award is especially apt, as a growing cavalcade of filmmakers has literally put Fort Worth in the spotlight.

Despite the pandemic, the Fort Worth Film Commission has continued to support feature films that have debuted at international film festivals, including Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and Tribeca. But the parade is not limited to niche films with small audiences. A film set in Fort Worth in the 1930s and a spin-off of one of the most popular streaming shows have eyeballs focused on productions using the city as a backdrop.

And for that, we can thank The Fort Worth Film Commission.

Established in 2015, the commission serves in conjunction with Visit Fort Worth to drive economic impact through film production and film tourism. The commission is also focused on growing and developing the city’s own creative class. In its six years of existence, the film commission has worked with hundreds of projects, driven more than $50 million in economic impact and helped create 4,000-plus local jobs.

“Before establishing the film commission there was no single resource to pitch Fort Worth to film, television and commercial projects, so our city was losing out on opportunities to Dallas, Austin, Houston and more,” said Jessica Christopherson, Visit Fort Worth’s VP of Marketing and Film Commissioner. “There was also not one office to act as the connecting point to help productions with needs such as locations, permitting, finding crew, production office space, hotels and other resources needed.”

Film highlights locally include this year’s popular 12 Mighty Orphans; Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone prequel Y:1883; A Bad Idea Gone Wrong; A Ghost Story; The Old Man & the Gun; Never Goin’ Back; No Future; Miss Juneteenth; No Ordinary Love; and The Senior.

Y:1883 utilized locations in the Stockyards and created a buzz on social media around town as extras shared their experiences on the film set.

More people are bringing their projects to Fort Worth because word is getting out that our community is embracing film and creative projects. Our districts, local businesses owners and homeowners have opened their doors to be film-friendly locations. The film commission has been able to work closely with the city to minimize permit turnaround time for long-term projects,” Christopherson continued. “Fort Worth ISD has been incredible in helping projects like 12 Mighty Orphans and The Senior utilize fields and stadiums.

All these projects have helped build a talent base in the city.

“There is a really talented crew base in our area and projects want to work with top talent,” Christopherson said. “Our city also offers plenty to do for crew in their off time. Our culinary scene, entertainment and cultural amenities are selling points, too.”

And don’t forget the warm Texas hospitality and a focus on getting things done.

“There is very much a can-do attitude, which productions appreciate. A lot of putting a production together requires problem solving and making connections, and that is what we try to do,” she added.

Visit Fort Worth has been successful in other ways as well.

Christopherson noted the visitor count to Fort Worth reached a record 9.4 million before the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting more than 24,000 jobs and $2.6 billion in annual economic impact. Since the pandemic, Visit Fort Worth has played a leading role in the economic recovery by driving leisure and sports tourism.

In 2021, supported by new hotels and rising visitor interest, Travel + Leisure named Fort Worth a Top 15 destination.

“During the pandemic, our Fort Worth Sports Commission hosted dozens of events surpassing $100 million in economic impact and five billion social media impressions,” Christopherson said, adding that events included the National Finals Rodeo, U.S. Gymnastics Championship, Bassmaster and Olympic trials.

Visit Fort Worth was created about 55 years ago to attract more conventions and tourism.

“Back then we were known as the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau. Today, we share the Fort Worth story with all because there are many reasons to visit – great sports events, business meetings, because you saw us on Instagram,” said Mitch Whitten, Chief Operating Officer for Visit Fort Worth. “There are so many Fort Worth stories to tell because of visionary investment in our museums, our communities, our history and our future. We can’t wait to see what’s next.”

And we might just see what’s next on screen.

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