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VOL. 38 | NO. 25 | Friday, June 20, 2014

Demand, talent draw TV, film industry to Middle Tennessee

By Joe Morris

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Lately, most conversations regarding film and television production in Middle Tennessee have focused on the TV show “Nashville” and the efforts to keep it filming here.

But the area has long been home to a thriving creative production and post-production scene – and is getting even hotter.

That’s due to several factors. For example, artists who live here want to stay close to home when shooting videos, so they want local directors, camera operators, other technicians. This means more work for the people already here, as well as an influx of new operators, who in turn bring more artists with them.

And as the industry continues to grow, even more opportunities should both make their way here as well as grow out of Nashville, says Nick Palladino, president of Moo Creative, which creates music videos, commercials and video-tour content for the likes of Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert and Jake Owen.

“As of late, a lot of people are steering away from the coasts and working in their backyards,” Palladino says. “That’s difficult in some areas, but not in Nashville.

“The music scene has always been strong here, of course, but artists are finding a lot more production companies here now who can come over and talk to them, and who live and breathe the music that they’re producing.”

The recording industry has always been as much word of mouth as anything else, he adds, but “business is business, and location factors into cost. If your location has a lot more to offer in terms of talented workforce, then you get a lot more traction.

“Nashville has very much become a production hub, with all the assets an artist needs already here. Ten years ago, we weren’t at this point, but we’re finally breaking into that upper level.”

Nashville native Roman White, a director who has worked with Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton, and who recently joined forces with Moo Creative, echoes that point. White has won three Emmys, as well as an MTV Music Video award, and has picked up Director of the Year and Video of the Decade at the CMT awards.

“Nashville has evolved a lot even in the last two years,” White says.

“I am back and forth from Los Angles, and I have watched it become more eclectic and artistic, and the creative community is drawn to that,’’ he says. “That means people don’t just come here for work, but that they also relocate here, which grows the talent pool.”

The production and post-production talent pool has always been deep here, White adds, but advances in technology mean that people can work from literally anywhere, so a city with a lot to offer – and that’s more affordable – is getting attention.

“The coasts were always seen as cooler, but as Nashville aligns itself more with an artistic vibe, people will notice that,” he says.

“When you see great work coming out of a place, people want to know who directed it, or shot it or wrote it. They used to be surprised when they found it was Nashville, but not so much any more.”

White is about to begin directing his first feature film, and is pushing for at least half of it to be shot in Nashville.

“I love the crews here, I trust them, and I know who I want to work with,” he says. “The talent is here, the talent is coming here.

“This is a beautiful city to shoot in, so I look to take advantage of that.”

More high-level players are likely to feel the same, Palladino says, allowing the industry to feed on itself. That’ll bring competition, which means everyone involved will be stepping up their game.

“This is a city with so much promise and upward mobility,” he says. “If artists are comfortable here, and can not only make a home but successfully create and do business, they will come here.

“Ten years ago we would have called ourselves a production house, but now we’re a creative concept company.

“There are so many different facets of content now, from streaming and on-demand to regular venues, and all of that is being created in our back yard.”

To succeed now and in the future, Palladino says Moo Creative is being run like an agency, with teams aligning with clients to push both existing and new concepts.

He also hopes that approach will create the necessary flexibility that a changing industry demands.

“The next hurdle to get over is on-demand content, and we’re going to see a lot of change in programming and broadcasting over the next year,” he says.

“Everything’s moving toward people being able to get what they want, when they want it, on a variety of devices.

“Our challenge is to change our model so we can service those people.”