Office established to market CN as film destination

01/24/2019 10:50 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The people, places, history and culture of the Cherokee Nation could soon be featured on the big screen with the launch of the Cherokee Nation Film Office.

According to a CN press release, the office’s mission is to grow the state’s film industry by promoting northeast Oklahoma as a filmmaking destination; maintaining a database of CN locations, resources and talent; serving as a cultural and historical consultant on film projects; and creating an environment that cultivates Native filmmaking.

“Five years ago, we launched the production of ‘Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People.’ It was the first Native American programming of its kind, and we’re proud that it was created by Cherokee Nation citizens. The show has been wildly successful, winning five Emmy Awards. Through the show, we discovered there are many Cherokees with a natural talent for filmmaking,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “As secretary of state, I regularly interact with individuals who fundamentally misunderstand Native Americans. What I’ve learned is Native stories are best told by Native voices, and we hope to develop local talent that will tell those stories. We have extremely talented filmmakers, producers, directors and actors in the Cherokee Nation. My vision is to create an environment that nurtures our talented Cherokees in this space and ensures that Native stories are told accurately and with authenticity. I was pleased that when I asked Amanda (Clinton) to lead the effort to create the Cherokee Nation Film Office, she immediately said yes.”

The release states the CNFO is a new division under Cherokee Nation Businesses’ communications department and will be led by CNB Vice President of Communications Amanda Clinton with support from other tribal departments. It also states the office will work with the Oklahoma Film + Music Office, the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts and Culture and other film offices to leverage resources and talent. Areas of cooperation include providing local recommendations for crew and talent, coordinating site visits and hosting filmmaking workshops, film festivals, the release states.

“Before we created ‘Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People,’ I had no idea the depth of Native talent that existed in this industry but was being under-utilized or not utilized at all,” Clinton said. “But in addition to the talent pool we have in the Cherokee Nation, it’s also one of the most beautiful areas of our state. Promoting a place so close to our hearts as a filmmaking destination is a mission we’re excited to fulfill.”

In recent years, major motion pictures and television series have been filmed in Texas, Georgia, Louisiana and other states. The release states that the Motion Picture Association of America found in 2016 the Oklahoma film and television industry was responsible for 13,273 direct and indirect jobs and more than $220 million in wages. By contrast, Texas’ film and television industry was responsible 105,525 jobs and $1.81 billion in wages. Georgia’s impacts were 92,494 jobs and $2.15 billion in wages, while Louisiana’s impacts were 22,707 jobs and nearly $400 million in wages.

The CNFO’s partnerships with OF+MO and Tulsa FMAC will only enhance the appeal of Oklahoma’s budding film industry, the release states.

“The launch of the Cherokee Nation Film Office supports our state’s mission to expand our footprint and become a top destination for film and music makers. With more strategic and authentic voices working alongside our state office, Oklahoma is poised to further educate global audiences on the truly unique landscapes, history, people and resources we can offer,” OF+MO Director Tava Maloy Sofsky. “We look forward to collaborating with the Cherokee Nation on many levels, as we collectively develop new talent and infrastructure.”

According to the release, CNB has economic development partnerships with the Tulsa Regional Chamber and Tulsa Regional Tourism, the parent organization of Tulsa FMAC.

“We’re thrilled that the Cherokee Nation is establishing a film office within their nation. As our mission has always been to highlight Tulsa and our region as a film destination, this development will further showcase what northeast Oklahoma has to offer. We look forward to collaborating with them and, together, continuing to grow a strong film industry that is sustainable for years to come,” Tulsa FMAC Director Abby Kurin said.

The release states that Hoskin, as the primary liaison between the CN and state, began meetings months ago to help get the film office off the ground.

“This new partnership follows a familiar model but opens the door to exciting new opportunities for us,” Hoskin said. “When we work together and collaborate with our partners across the state, it helps Cherokees, but it also helps all Oklahomans by making our state a more attractive place to live, work and visit. I’m grateful we have talented Cherokee employees who are passionate about making this a successful new industry for the Cherokee Nation while further supporting our mission of preserving Cherokee culture.”

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