The city of Superior is joining northern Minnesota to promote the area for television productions.
Superior’s City Council approved spending up to $15,000 from the city’s hotel/motel tax fund to sponsor the Catalyst Content Festival scheduled for Oct. 9-13 at various venues in Duluth in a 9-1 vote.
“What Catalyst does is bring together TV executives from around the world to look at some new projects throughout the year,” said Philip Gilpin Jr., director of Catalyst Stories. “The economic development goal for the project is to have those producers and people that are coming to the region stay here and work here and bring their future projects here. TV is big business — millions, if not billions, of dollars. Georgia last year did millions in television and film production.”
Gilpin said filmmakers are looking for places outside of Los Angeles and New York for their productions. He said when the organization landed in Duluth for its Midwest operation, discussions suggested Superior should be included in the production guide, which has been sponsored by St. Louis County and the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.
The guide will be given to producers when they are here in October so they are aware of the types of resources available in the area to support their productions, Gilpin said.
Council Craig Sutherland asked what the $15,000 would pay for if the Council approved the sponsorship.
“It’s a measure of inclusion so when producers come to town they will know that Superior is there as an open opportunity to bring their work,” Gilpin said.
However, he said, Superior businesses that would sign up to be in the directory would have to sign up within a couple of weeks to be included in the printed guide that will be provided during the festival. An online version of the guide is updated monthly so if businesses miss the print deadline they could still sign up, Gilpin said.
“The $15,000 doesn’t secure any of the events to happen in Superior,” Council President Brent Fennessey said. “It doesn’t secure productions to be shot here. It doesn’t secure any event … it basically puts us in a phone book.”
Gilpin said it does open Superior up to being advertised as a potential place to shoot projects, but he couldn’t guarantee that would happen.
The festival features screenings, workshops, panels, seminars and other events that will be held mainly at the Norshor, Zeitgeist Teatro, Zeitgeist Zinema 1 and 2, and Spirit of the North at Fitger’s.
Gilpin said while the festival is five days, Catalyst Stories is a year-round professional development organization that focuses on narrative arts and attract creators to the reason.
“What gives you confidence that this is going to be successful,” Councilor Jack Sweeney asked. Sweeney was the only councilor to vote against the sponsorship.
Gilpin said the organization has been around for 14 years and has attracted more than 1,000 people each year, some from as far away as Australia and Iran. Then, they were located in a very rural area two to three hours from the closest airport, he said.
“The reason we moved to Duluth is because we are constantly being asked by creators in our universe ‘can I move there? Can I live there. Can I work there?’” Gilpin said. He said the variety of settings the Twin Ports has to offer — from an ocean view with Lake Superior to industrial settings like the grain elevators and shipyards, and Americana-style neighborhoods, the area has the variety producers are looking, he said.
For more information about the festival and production guide, visit catalystcontent.org.