Savannah Film Office supporters to meet Tuesday night

By Don Logana - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Will Savannah's Film and Tourism office survive the city's budget process?

While city leaders debate the future of the film office, which includes a proposal to combine it with Leisure Services, some are fighting back against the idea.

The office is remaining quiet and staying out of the politics, and focusing on their jobs of getting films and TV projects into Savannah.

Film Office Director Jay Self told WTOC they are not advocating anyone to fight on their behalf,  and as we found out, they don't have to. Some people are ready to give city hall a piece their mind on their own in hopes the city listens.

"I hope so. I would if I were a politician," Wendy Moynihan told WTOC.

Moynihan is no stranger to the film industry in Savannah. From Glory to Forrest Gump to The Conspirator, she's worked on every major movie.

"Pretty much anything filmed here locally, I have worked on," Moynihan said.

She also remembers when there was no Savannah Film and Tourism Office.

"I remember the days of Glory where we had damages to our historical buildings and porperties, where we had citizens outraged because they were fiming all hours of the night, trampling on property they shouldn't have," Moynihan said.

In 1994, with a budget of $75,000, the film office was created and 15 years later, Moynihan thinks Savannah's film business is better than ever.

"Lots of money and lots of jobs. I can't think of a business that does not make money from when a film is in town," she said. "There were only two citizen complaints last year which is incredible."

Moynihan says last year, with a budget of $200,000, the film office helped bring in $11 million to the area.

"It's one of the few departmemnts where the return comes back over and over and over again," Moynihan said.

However, Savannah's city manager has proposed possibly shrinking the office and combining it with leisure services, a move slammed by some council members and people in the film business.

"I don't understand why we are not looking at this just from an economnic standpoint," Moynihan said. "It's paid back for us over and over again. It's not someplace we should cut the budget."

Moynihan is now, like Glory, forming an army to try and keep the Savannah Film and Tourism office as it is, despite the proposal still being on the table and very much alive.

"There is something more here than we know," Moynihan said. "That's the feeling I am getting."

Wendy Moynihan, and others will be meeting Tuesday night at Galleria Espresso at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the Savannah Film and Tourism office situation, to brainstorm ideas and bring their concerns to city council between now and the next budget hearing on December 16.

Film Office Director Jay Self says any decisions about the future of the office should be between the people and lawmakers. For now, they are staying out of the debate, other than offering their thoughts to the city manager and council.

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