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September 27, 2021

Headlines:

Whalehuggers and Greenpeace Stimulate Alaska’s Economy!

After I moved to Alaska in 1991, I was quite surprised when I realized that Alaska is not full of granola-crunchin’, bunny snugglin’, tree-huggin’, biodegradable cleaning supply usin’ environmental activists whose main focus is maintaining their pristine wilderness.  Who knew?

It’s been a twenty year learning process to understand Alaskans and their relationship with wildness.  It’s a complicated one, and there are Alaskans from one end of the spectrum to the other.  It’s the ones on the extreme end of “other” that tend to irritate me.  The particular mindset to which I refer can be summed up by a bumpersticker I saw that said, “Chop, Kill, Dig, Drill.”  So, this little news item made me smile.  Just between us, it even made me laugh.   Out loud.

It all started in June of 2008, when legislation successfully sponsored by Senator Johnny Ellis (D) created the Alaska Film Production Incentive Program. What this means is that now film companies have incentive to shoot films about Alaska in… (wait for it)… Alaska! No more eye rolling and visceral stomach clenching from the Alaska crowd when we watch “Alaskan” scenes filmed obviously in Washington or Canada, or even Massachusetts. That means more popcorn in our bellies, and less being hurled at the screen.

But here’s the part that really makes me smile. Because of this bill, all the Republicans are going to have to be thankful to (gasp!) Hollywood, and their tiny delicate starlets, and their artsy liberal ways for actually bringing money to Alaskans, and stimulating our local economy! And not only that, but the first major feature film to do so stars one of those little starlets (Drew Barrymore) as a Greenpeace activist!  But wait, there’s more!  The film is called “Everybody Loves Whales.” I want popcorn already, just to read the press release.

A multi-million dollar film will begin production in Alaska this summer creating new jobs and economic opportunity across the state. The film Everybody Loves Whales is based on the true story of the 1988 international rescue of gray whales trapped by the sea ice in the Alaskan Arctic near Barrow.

“This is the first major dollar film production drawn to Alaska, in part, by the new Alaska Film Production Incentive Program,” said Bob Crockett, president of the Alaska Film Group. “The production will utilize dozens of Alaska businesses creating many jobs and economic opportunities. When this film wraps, Alaska will have a deeper and more experienced crew base and an infrastructure that will help attract additional major feature film productions to the state,” Crockett said.

Everybody Loves Whales is to be directed by Ken Kwapis (He’s Just not That Into You), starring Drew Barrymore (Charlie’s Angels, 50 First Dates, Grey Gardens) and John Krasinski (The Office). The film is currently in pre-production in Anchorage. Set construction is slated to begin in July and filming is expected to continue into winter. Alaskans will be working on every facet of the production from location scouting and construction to catering, transportation and acting.

“I’m sure that once Hollywood finds out what we have to offer they will be back again and again,” said Sen. Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage), who successfully sponsored legislation in 2008 creating the Alaska Film Production Incentive Program and transferable film production credits and re-establishing the Alaska Film Office.

“While I am excited to see this truly Alaskan story come to life on the big screen, the real reason that I sponsored the Film Incentive Program is the substantial investment it represents for our small businesses—the laborers and electricians, the shop and restaurant owners—the everyday Alaskans who will be working thanks to this production,” Ellis said.

The legislation, which became law in June of 2008, was supported by hundreds of Alaskans, locally owned businesses and communities throughout the state who were hoping to attract the film industry to Alaska.

Everybody Loves Whales is the perfect production for Alaska,” said Alaska Film Group board member Carolyn K. Robinson. “Not only is this a wonderful family script which highlights the Alaskan Arctic, this project is good news for Alaska’s economy.”

“In the past, if you wanted to work on a major motion picture you were forced to go Outside,” Robinson explained. “Everybody Loves Whales makes it possible for industry professionals and their families to actually live here and work on a big feature film.”

British Columbia, often used as a filming location to portray Alaska settings, recently released figures showing $1.3 billion in spending by film and television productions in 2009. As Alaska’s film incentive law becomes more widely known, the state could see similar economic activity.

“Other US states with innovative and aggressive incentives have been diversifying their economies and creating new high-paying private sector jobs; Alaska is poised to do the same,” Robinson added. “In addition to benefiting from the infusion of investment dollars, the residual effect of these big feature films will bring millions of dollars worth of marketing and promotion for Alaska businesses, products, and tourism, for years to come” she said.

There’s no way these folks are going to be able to hide in this town.  Anchorage is the place where people stayed on line all night, just to be one of the first to enter a new K-Mart store.  We never had one of those before.

So a feature film starring someone we’ve heard about is going to be big gawker magnet, wherever they happen to be filming.  Prepare for a new concept never before seen in our fair state – gridlock.

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  1. Zyxomma says:

    The Godfather II was filmed on my block in the 1970s. For decades, a building (not on my block, but on the corner across the avenue) kept the signage on their windows. A resident of the building was trying to prove it had a commercial past because of the Italian signs (lawyer, dentist featuring a giant tooth) for some legal reason, but many of us in the neighborhood remembered the filming.

  2. Renegade80 says:

    I love Drew Barrymore and would love to see her play, the heiress, Casey Johnson,, in a new book coming out titled “Nothing Left to Want”. She’s a a great actress, as she proved in “Grey Gardens”.

  3. DF says:

    So, the lingering question is: will they go to Barrow????? They definitely can’t hide up there! I hope Drew Barrymore can fit in wherever she goes. I have my opinions, of course!

    You know this was a particularly exciting story, as I remember, but it was also very controversial. I guess you could build a story around all the efforts and cost to save those whales. We’ll have to see. And, yes, I’ll go see it even if I’m not a Drew Barrymore fan [clenches jaw].

  4. JimLINY says:

    Anybody know if this will be a union film?

  5. Jane in NC says:

    NC has been offering incentives for film production for 30 years:

    “For years, North Carolina has nipped at the heels of Hollywood’s top-dog status in film like an angry pup. The Tarheel State, once second only to California in film revenue, has garnered more than $7 billion in income since 1980 from more than 800 movies and television series wholly or partially filmed here, including Nights in Rodanthe, The Secret Life of Bees, The Color Purple [filmed at my father’s old homeplace, where he was born], Dawsons Creek, One Tree Hill, Forrest Gump and the George Clooney-directed Leatherheads. [and Bull Durham, down the road from me]

    “The recent economic downturn, coupled with the fact that other countries lure American film production abroad with financial-incentive packages, has threatened to stifle the US film business, North Carolina included. And with states like Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana also drawing film business away with incentives, the Old North State now fights just to stay in the game.”

    There are some downsides, if you’re interested read the entire article http://www.yesweekly.com/article-8270-shot-in-nc.html

    Alaska is a little late coming to the game, with 47 states now offering incentives, but it’s fun, and the locals in the small towns where some of the films were made still talk about the experience, some still use it for advertising, and there are now a few sound stages as well.

    Good luck, and have fun in Anchorage!

  6. Polly says:

    This is great. The movie theme counteracts Sarah’s “next to the mashed potatoes” rhetoric.

    We need more environmental-type movies filmed in Alaska. And cute starlets too. (This may get Sarah to stay away.)

    • benlomond2 says:

      Hear, Hear, for the “cute starlets”!!! …….. but I REALLY don’t think there’s gonna be an Alaskan version of Baywatch …… chortle !! 🙂

  7. LiladyNY says:

    This is wonderful! I love Drew Barrymore. She was extraordinary in Grey Gardens. Wow.

    I wonder if Sister $arah will go sniffing for Ms. Barrymore’s autograph the same way she went to bask in the glow of Ivana Trump. Bless her heart.

  8. tallimat says:

    I wonder what the “Chop, Kill, Dig, Drill” character’s story lines will be and who will play them?

    Perhaps Frank the Bank will come out of retirement?

    • tallimat says:

      Okay, my above comment was bad. I don’t want any Alaskans to have bad dreams or anything like that… sorry, my bad.

      I honestly welcome this!
      If I see them about, it will be a honor to welcome them to Alaska.

  9. AKPetMom says:

    Remember when Disney filmed “White Fang” in Haines? That was a pretty unique experience for the town and people still talk about it to this day. Many “Hainsiens” have bit parts in the movie and it was big boon to their economy the summer that it was filmed.

    • InJuneau says:

      And continues to be, in a way, as much of the building on the set were left at the fair grounds and are still in use today.

  10. Blooper says:

    We may not have gridlock yet (at least most of the time), but we are not free from all traffic ills.
    Consider this saying: “In Alaska there are two seasons, winter and road construction”.

    • benlomond2 says:

      okay, okay… I can’t resist asking.. 🙂 when a car and a dog sled are at the same intersection.. who has right of way ???
      …. and if the driver of the sled is drunk… is that a “MUI ” ??? … and ben runs for the hills, dodging snowballs and mukluks….

      • Blooper says:

        Hah! In some parts of Alaska, that question might be more relevant than you might think. 🙂

      • North of the Range says:

        Not quite a dog team story, but once, I was driving along a narrow, tree-lined, single-lane access road covered with powdery snow, and came around a blind curve to find a ski-jorer heading my way at close range and top speed. The skier was not exactly in charge of the dog, who was in doggie bliss and blithely out of control. Although I hit my brakes and stopped, there was no option for veering out of the way. In the split second before the dog decided to jump into the trees, drag his skiing friend into the snowbank, and not ram head-on into the front bumper, I was wondering, how am I going to explain *this* to the insurance company? Dog hits car? But I guess that scenario could happen in almost any rural place in wintertime. 🙂

      • Baker's Dozen says:

        I believe it’s still on the books in San Jose that drovers–and their charges–have right of way. You could check it our by roundin’ up some bovines and takin’ ’em downtown. Must be somethin’ goin’ on this next weekend you’d enjoy!

        Personally, I prefer it in places where kayaks have right of way!

  11. scout says:

    film, baby, film

    Welcome Ms. Barrymore et al!

  12. MonaLisa (inCT) says:

    I can’t imagine a world without gridlock….

  13. zyggy says:

    Maybe Drew can live next door to Missy Quittypants for the next 6 months. =)

  14. InJuneau says:

    Heh, heh, heh; serves those say no Rs right!

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