Savannah Film Office requesting City look back at Memo of SEDA merger

SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV-TV) – The Savannah Film Office could see itself dissolve into the Savannah Economic Development Authority. Commission members reviewed the city’s memo of the changeover for the first time and were not all pleased.

“What is the best avenue to accomplish it, if they come back and say SEDA is the best avenue to accomplishment, I’m all for it. I’m not satisfied that that analysis has been done prior to going forward with this,” says former city councilman and film office commissioner Dana Braun.

The memo of understanding gives SEDA complete power to market and bring in film production to Savannah.

“We do believe that a more robust savannah area film office is the most effective way to move into the future for developing this industry here,” says SEDA Chief Operating Officer Brynn Grant.

An industry that is estimated to have brought in more than $55 million in 2015 alone. This year has started even larger with the “Baywatch” movie that was estimated to bring in $8 million. Commission members and film stakeholders agree the merging is a good business move.

“It’s a function of improving the business and the city hasn’t really been able to fund the commission to the extent that SEDA will be able to,” says long time film producer Stratton Leopold.

What film office commissioners are not in favor of is the memo in its technicality. It will eventually mean closing the office created by city law. That concerns commissioners on for what that means to the lawmaking process at city hall.

“It’s very strange that it’s written in this way that we will repeal it, we’re going to sign this agreement and repeal it because that obfuscates the process,” says Braun.

The commission then is asking the city manager and attorney to edit the memo. Mostly for purposes of transparency, they’re asking the city to clarify how SEDA will elect a new film office advisory board once the commission is eliminated, which is mentioned in the memo to take place after the end of the year.

“We’ll get a little more clarification in some of our documentation it said specifically how the advisory board might be appointed or at least gave a framework for that which would based on each entity’s investment,” says Grant.

Savannah city leaders held off on voting for the agreement last council meeting due to several council members hearing about the proposal for the first time the evening prior to the meeting. They are expected to look back at the changeover next week during pre-council workshop and it will be on the agenda with the option to be put to a vote by elected officials.

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