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The fledgling Quad Cities Regional Film Office is seeking an industry expert who will aggressively launch, run and promote an organization that will grow movie, documentary, television and advertising production in the Quad Cities. On Friday, Aug. 25, Miles Brainard, Rock Island’s community and economic development (CED) director, sent out a request for proposals (RFP) asking experienced industry leaders to put together a plan that will take the office – which now is primarily the qcregionalfilm.com website – to the next level. Mr. Brainard’s department has been responsible for developing the project under a $65,000 State of Illinois grant to create the office. The CED department’s first step was to hire Quad Cities film consultant Doug Miller in June of 2022. Mr. Miller has been paid $20,000 for the first year and is under contract for a second. “Some might say that it’s been very slow going,” Mr. Brainard said of the startup’s first 14 months. “I can disagree with that.” He told the QCBJ that Mr. Miller was hired as film and media liaison to connect the city with resources and people in the industry. His role was “to inform” the effort, not to set up the office or run it. “Doug has been working his network of connections to kind of drum up interest in this area, but the fact remains that a year after putting him under contract, we as city staff are still not the right people to run a film office in a more day-to-day manner,” Mr. Brainard said. “We frequently just don’t have the skill sets or the time to do that. This is not in our lanes.” For urban planners outside the City of Chicago – which has a department dedicated to film, television, theater and advertising production – a film office is a “very novel concept. So it’s not like we have a clear template we can copy,” he added. That’s where the new consultant comes in. “To me the ideal respondent is someone who comes to us with a game plan on how they think this office effort should run and who helps to explain to us where we might want to go from here,” Mr. Brainard said. “We’re looking for someone who can tell me how to build something.” The CED leader is hopeful for a successful search, in part, due to a larger talent pool made available from the recent strikes that have largely idled film productions and planning. “We can hopefully pull someone out of the industry who is looking to change up their own career path,” Mr. Brainard said. The situation also has bought the city a little more time to get rolling. “The ongoing strike actually makes it so we’re looking ahead and we’re able to say, ‘OK, if they finally come to some resolution, if they finally come out of this, it probably won’t be until fall,’” he said. That in turn gives Rock Island time to find the right consultant who can then “get the lay of the land” and get started promoting the region. Whoever is selected, early funding isn’t a problem thanks to the support of Illinois State Sen. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, who has championed the industry and helped pass legislation providing the startup grant. In addition to working to expand the Illinois tax credits that have helped spawn an explosion of projects in the state, Mr. Halpin also told the QCBJ he is seeking to expand funding for the Quad Cities film effort. As a result, Mr. Brainard said, “we have more money than we know what to do with, which is a good position to be in.” Under the current plan, Mr. Brainard’s hope is that city staff will manage the project’s grants, handle state reporting requirements and sign contracts. “We’re good at that part,” he said. “That’s our lane and we’re going to stay in it.” At the same time, Mr. Miller will continue to leverage his experience and network of contacts “to inform” the effort, Mr. Brainard said. As for the new consultant, he or she will organize and manage the office’s day–to-day operations including organizing film festivals and independent movie premieres in the Quad Cities, coordinating production crews, and finding and creating a bank of resources that can serve as a one-stop-shop for producers. The job also includes promoting the Quad Cities outside of the region. And the new member of the team also will flesh out the film office’s website at qcregionalfilm.com, which was created by Holly Sparkman, a retired Quad Cities marketing professional. A history buff, she volunteered to get it going. Once the organization is up and running, how will the Quad Cities measure the film office’s success? Peter Hawley, head of the Illinois Film Office, said the region needs to capture a project that QC promoters can use to leverage more such business. A Quad Cities native who has overseen explosive growth in Illinois’ and Chicago’s film industry – despite a pandemic and the recent strikes – spoke about the QC office during an film networking event last month held in conjunction with the region’s Alternating Currents festival. Mr. Hawley also told a receptive crowd at Dphilms in downtown Rock Island that the QC’s first project in four years doesn’t have to be a major movie production. For example, a Chicago-based production that films for a week or so in the Quad Cities, a documentary film, or even a commercial could be enough to put the region back on filmmakers’ maps. Mr. Brainard has similar goals. “We’re looking for perhaps smaller productions who are either going to do short or smaller scale films here or do location shots where perhaps all of the interior scenes of the film are done, say, over in Vancouver our outside of L.A., and then they do some aerial photography or some of that outside shot here in the Quad Cities,” he said. For now, Mr. Brainard is focused on finding someone to get that process going. “Ideally, I want to be in a position where as we roll into fall as the strike maybe comes to some resolution we don’t lose momentum and we keep kind of moving toward a place where opportunities present themselves,” he said. When that will happen remains uncertain. The CED’s deadline for submitting consultant RFPs is Friday, Sept. 15. But Mr. Brainard said if the city does not get the experience and plan they seek, the search could be extended.