St. Louis: a Perfect Pallet for a Filmmaker

by Mike Sneden, principal at the Arbor Group

arboradDecades ago social soothsayers predicted the electronic revolution would bring a great decentralization; a democratization to myriad human endeavors. Flash-forward to the present and it’s a reality. High-end sophisticated motion storytelling, aka movies, long the purview of a centralized system in a few select cities, can now be accomplished anywhere. With a few small esoteric exceptions, the production tools for filmmakers are everywhere, St. Louis, not being an exception. Availability of advanced equipment is no longer an impediment.

The availability of production talent has followed the same arc. While St. Louis might not have hundreds of people doing ‘A’ level work like an LA or New York, it most decidedly has dozens. A particular craft position like Gaffer might not have a deep bullpen in a small media market like St. Louis, but there are several individuals that could easily play at an elite level in any market.

In the past, even if you could surmount these production obstacles you would still be constrained by distribution and obviously electronics has fundamentally changed that paradigm also. There is no longer the impenetrable gatekeeper of the big networks or monolithic cable conglomerates. Free and pay-for-play web platforms are proliferating, the outlets are numerous and exciting.

And with all this capability comes the real advantage, St. Louis itself. It is a perfect pallet for a filmmaker: a place with a rich visual fingerprint. The muddy rivers, historic bridges, iconic skyline, decaying 20th century manufacturing, agrarian surround and dozens of square miles of red-brick abodes have all been amazingly underutilized.

All the pieces are here, so no excuses. It comes down to a unique story and passionate individuals that need to execute.