City in Arkansas signals support for $70M television show shoot

NWA Democrat-Gazette/STACY RYBURN Chris Crane, Arkansas film commissioner, speaks Tuesday to the Fayetteville City Council at City Hall. Crane said the state has been working on an incentive package to get an episodic network TV series to film in the city.

A Northwest Arkansas city has officially decided to support serving as the host site for a major television show.

The Fayetteville City Council voted Tuesday to express intent to support having an episodic network series film in the city, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Officials haven't divulged the series' name, but it reportedly has a $70 million budget.

If chosen as the site, the city will contribute $500,000 over two years to the project as part of a larger incentive package with the state.

Chung Tan, director of economic development at the Chamber of Commerce, said the production company has narrowed its preferred filming location to either Fayetteville or another, unnamed city in another state.

"If we get it, then the money will be spent," Tan said. "If we lose it, not a single cent is out the door."

Paul Becker, chief financial officer for the city, said the resolution of intent to support the series is contingent on more information from the production company.

"It means we're interested," he said.

Becker said the the company is primarily negotiating with the state, so he could not disclose more details or an exact timeline. He said the city will later find out more about the company's expenditures as it confirms that Fayetteville will get a return on its investment. The project is still in the "exploratory" stages, he said.

Tan said $500,000 is small compared to the project's large budget and an estimated $179 million economic effect on the city in terms of jobs and revenue.

Devin Howland, director of economic vitality for Fayetteville, submitted the resolution Sept. 15. It states that "a series of this size and caliber" would have a positive effect on the city's economy. The project reportedly has the support of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Tan said she could not disclose the name of the series. Arkansas Online reported in September that the third season of HBO's True Detective will be set in Northwest Arkansas.

Tan also would not name the other location that is being considered for the show but said it is in a strong state for giving incentives for film projects. She said one of the main drivers for teams deciding whether to film in a certain state is community cooperation.

"If they have to close the street and do a shoot, will everyone be calling to complain?" Tan said. "We believe this is not the case."

She said Fayetteville has a strong creative scene and that a project like this one could elevate the city's fledgling film industry. The show could pull from Fayetteville's talented workforce that includes University of Arkansas, Fayetteville graduates, carpenters and creatives, Tan added.