Filmmaker wants North Texas to create more than commercials, corporate films
“Imagine multiple TV shows being shot here.” Johnathan Brownlee, a movie industry veteran who relocated to North Texas a decade ago for the Dallas International Film Festival, does.
“You remember Dallas and the impact it had but imagine there being more than one show like Dallas and how that could really benefit everyone,” he suggested.
Dallas has long had a footprint in the film industry but moved away from narrative features over the years to commercials and corporate training films.
That shift left money on the table, and Brownlee wants North Texans to pursue it.
“It’s more than just consuming the product but also knowing you can create it,” he said, citing an example of the growing opportunities. “Streaming services require content.”
When Brownlee came to Dallas 10 years ago, he wanted to invest in something economically beneficial to himself, others, and the city. He’s worked on multiple projects in genres ranging from family films to horror, all providing jobs and opportunities for area residents.
His company Torfoot Films partnered with EventHorizonFilms for the Dallas Screenwriting Competition, won recently by Harry Hunsicker, a novelist, D Magazine contributor, and Highland Park resident.
Hunsicker’s first screenplay, a crime comedy called (S)hit Squad, will debut at the 2022 Dallas International Film Festival with Brownlee as director and co-producer.
The other producers are Carrie Sternberg, Event Horizon Films’ Jodi Frizzell, and IdeaMan Studios with legal partners, Litwin Law Group, PLLC, and the Law Office of LaToya L. Blakely.
The short film, featuring significant character interactions and a Pulp Fiction feel, doesn’t only let Hunsicker branch out. It also helps other locals in the industry learn how to make narrative projects in a market where they often don’t get the chance, Brownlee said.
Making a narrative film is very different from making a commercial ad or a training film, he said.
North Texas has recently attracted projects like 1883, a Yellowstone spin-off, and 12 Mighty Orphans, a football film.
Extra investment could bring in veteran industry workers looking for a better work environment, predicted Brownlee, who sees the area as more conducive to healthy home life.
Strengthen that base, create more content, and, Brownlee said, the area could become a significant industry hub like Atlanta – something beneficial to everyone.
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