By Paige Lambert and Anna Herod
Kyle may soon become a film production destination after the city was officially designated a Texas Film Friendly Community by the Texas Film Commission Feb. 26.
Diana Blank Torres, Kyle Economic Development director, has led the effort in gaining the designation for Kyle for the past five years.
After Torres made a presentation outlining the benefits of pursuing the opportunity at the Feb. 16 city council meeting, council members unanimously approved a resolution to move forward with becoming a Texas Film Friendly Community.
“In general, what happens is you become this film friendly Texas city, and they kind of do all the marketing and promotions for you, for all the cities that are designated,” Kyle communications specialist Kim Hilsenbeck said. “So they reach out to film production companies.”
Hilsenbeck said a Texas Film Commission representative came to Kyle and took dozens, if not hundreds, of photos of the city. Now that Kyle is a Texas Film Friendly Community, those photos are posted on Locationshub.com where film producing companies can browse through and find which locations would be best for their movie.
“I think that the designation just puts us in better positioning, puts us out there in such a way that we might not be able to do on our own,” Hilsenbeck said. “And these film friendly cities have more of a direct connection, or conduit, to some of these film production companies that you maybe wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Travis McGehee, creative director of SIP CREATIVES, said Kyle’s status as a Texas Film Friendly Community adds a support system for the film industry.
“It’s exciting as a director because if I want to look for filming locations, it means I can easily scout locations, and it really opens up doors for film makers,” McGehee said. “It has the potential to do great wonders for our city. The show ‘Fixer Upper’ is a good example for Waco because of what it has done for Waco and brought in income for them.”
There is a direct economic benefit from becoming designated by the Texas Film Commission, Hilsenbeck said.
“Well, in a big way, what it does is when it brings film crews here, it actually brings money to town,” Hilsenbeck said. “You’ve got all these people who need to eat, sleep, buy things, spend money… so there’s this whole other economic benefit of just having them in town.”
The program is designed to bring economic development programs to communities, said Kim LeBlanc, production and community relation specialist at the Texas Film Commission.
Film producers are attracted to designated communities because they know the city understands their needs, LeBlanc said.
“When you’re filming in an area that does not know what you need, it can be a head scratcher and translate into time and money,” LeBlanc said. “We provide training on filming, a one-on-one on the industry, and what they need to know on the community side. When these cities are put on a list, it’s easy to send filmmakers to our film friendly partners and bring them more business.”
Hilsenbeck said Kyle’s designation as a Film Friendly Texas Community will publicize the city’s name and stimulate its economy.
“It gives us a chance to get our name put out there in a way that we probably wouldn’t have access to on our own,” Hilsenbeck said. “It’s just a real easy, convenient way to let these folks know ‘hey we’re here and we’re looking for you to come and we’re ready, because we have everything in place.’”