New group hopes to turn Md. into Hollywood East

June 17, 1993|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

If you get a thrill whenever you see Maryland locations in movies and you have $500 to spare, Jed Dietz has a deal for you.

Mr. Dietz, general partner of a film investment partnership, has launched The Producers Club, a nonprofit group formed solely to lure movie companies and their dollars to Maryland.

Perhaps the first such effort in the country, the club charges each member $500 to promote Maryland as the place to make movies. In return, the members get a chance to hobnob with film industry celebrities and attend premieres and private screenings.

Filmmaking has become increasingly important to the state's economy over the past decade. Last year, a record eight feature films and two television productions filmed scenes in Maryland. The state estimated that they pumped $26 million directly into the economy and generated another $26 million in indirect benefits.

"In a time of brutal budget and fierce competition, we are planning a private-public partnership that would get more than our fair share of film and video production for our state," Mr. Dietz said.

The main goal of the group is to supplement the efforts of the Maryland Film Commission, a division of the state Department of Employment and Economic Development, Mr. Dietz said.

"We have a very, very low profile," he said of Maryland's efforts to promote itself in Hollywood. "It's very shoestring."

To lift the state's profile among the Hollywood crowd, Mr. Dietz envisions advertising in the entertainment trade press and sponsoring events such as crab feasts in California. He hopes to raise more than $150,000 a year in membership fees, about the same amount the state now spends on the Film Commission.

To help it start up, DEED will give the group a grant of $6,500, he said.

The Producers Club already has 17 members, including Thomas A. Kiefaber, owner of The Senator Theatre, the York Road movie house where films featuring Maryland locales typically premiere.

"The Senator is sort of going to become the clubhouse," Mr. Kiefaber said.

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