Giving Funds To Movie A Risk Worth Taking

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With $200,000 in public funds secured, it now looks like all is lined up for filming of the independent movie “Ping-Pong Summer” to commence next month.

This was not an easy decision for most and it’s understandable. A practical and conservative nature confirms government has no right spending public dollars on a private movie venture. However, that’s tunnel vision in this case and an outside-the-box, creative mentality is best here and that seems to have won out at the municipal and county levels.

In Ocean City’s case, the money being used is essentially derived from tourism dollars through room tax and if the tourism folks in Ocean City are willing to invest $100,000 on something that may never become a major motion picture then I’m okay with it. It’s risky, but it’s a gamble that’s worth taking because the payoffs could be tremendous for years to come.

Of course, it’s important to remember there’s no guarantee this independent movie will ever make it to movie theaters. It’s not the same situation as “Runaway Bride” in Berlin when Paramount Pictures had its muscle behind it.

With “Ping-Pong Summer” what has to happen is it has to be filmed then produced into a movie product. Depending on how long that process takes, it will then be taken to an independent film festival, likely in Toronto producers said earlier this summer. That’s where it will be essentially showcased and shopped with the hopes a major motion picture company will buy the rights and then distribute it regionally or hopefully even nationally.

“Will it become a blockbuster? It could, but it seems to be a good product, for marketing the town, the town has a role in it, and for the potential revenue stream down the line,” Tourism Advisory Board Chair Greg Shockley, owner of Shenanigans, told the Mayor and Council this week.

We think this was a worthy gamble, albeit unconventional. It’s progressive thinking and if successful it could be a precedent other towns point to when similar situations are presented years from now.

With the investment essentially covered through legal channels, the worst-case scenario would be for the movie not to be picked up at a film festival and that it not be distributed in movie theaters.

If that were to happen, it would be a failure in our view, but the director and producers feel confident that will not happen, based on the big-name actors, like Susan Sarandon, that are set to star in the flick.

However, even considering that worst-case scenario, there’s no question the movie crews will bring new business to Ocean City, meaning revenue will be grabbed that would have never presented itself if the movie was not filmed here.

That’s a positive no matter how one feels about public dollars being directed to a private venture with no guarantee.

Funding this movie is a marketing initiative, plain and simple, and a wise one at that.

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