Lawton achieves 'Film Friendly' status

Scott Rains interviews Michael Darrow during the filming of "In the Shadow of the Wichitas." 

Filmmakers looking to shoot their next big movie in Lawton will have more help going forward with the city’s official designation as a Film Friendly Community.

Lawton achieved ‘film friendly’ certification after completing the requirements of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office’s Oklahoma Film Friendly Community Program.

“This is a real industry, with real job creation,” Yousef Kazemi, the outreach and production manager for the film and music office, said earlier this year. “Senate Bill 608, the Filmed in Oklahoma Act, increased the state’s annual funding cap for film from $8 to $30 million.”

Several different members of the community have been working toward the goal of getting Lawton certified, which took many man hours and several steps. The city had to establish an official process for films looking to shoot in the city, it needed to designate an official liaison to assist production companies and it had to uploaded photos to a list of potential film locations.

“It’s an exciting time for those interested in the future of filmmaking in our area. We are seeing the combined efforts of so many people fall into place with the certification of Lawton as a Film Friendly Community,” Lawton Arts and Humanities Council Vice Chair Allison Offield.

Offield is one of several individuals who worked to ensure that Lawton became one of the first cities to reach official certification. Lawton is among the first ten cities in the state to achieve the certification, along with its neighbor Duncan, to the east.

“Bringing ‘Hollywood’ to Lawton is a great economic development opportunity for the city’s businesses too. When film crews are here in Lawton, they need hotels, restaurants, an airport, car rentals, and of course, people to meet the opportunities and challenges of accommodating the media production companies,” Mike Leal, who participated in the certification process, said.

The City of Lawton has a longstanding history of supporting film and television production in their community through Lawton Arts & Humanities, a division of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, which serves as the point of contact for filming in the community.

Prior to the implementation of the Oklahoma Film Friendly Community Program, Lawton was one of the first cities in the state to develop a city-specific permit for filming in their city, and the community recently hosted the feature film productions of “Afterwalker” (2019) and “What Josiah Saw” (2020).

“This certification shows filmmakers that we are excited to work with them by having established Film Friendly policies and procedures, and it shows film makers we are committed to growing our online film location database,” Jason Poudrier, City of Lawton Arts & Humanities Administrator, said. “We see this certification as an asset to Lawton that can assist us in bringing in additional jobs, tourism, and revenue.”

For more information on OF+MO’s Oklahoma Film Friendly Community program, visit okfilmmusic.org/filmfriendly.

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