The Commissioner for the Kansas City Film Office, Stephanie Scupham, is a passionate advocate for all things Kansas City, on both sides of the state line. Her mission is to increase the economic impact of the film industry in the Kansas City metropolitan region, to provide coordination and leadership on film projects making it easier to facilitate those projects, and to market the Kansas City area as a destination for film, TV, and commercial productions.
Stephanie sees her role as Commissioner as an extension of her personal Why. “My personal why is to help people unfold into more and more of who they truly are. As I apply that to my role for the Kansas City region, I am simply doing the same thing. I am helping our region unfold into more and more of who we truly are. And so when I apply that to the film industry, we don’t need to be LA, we don’t need to be New York, we need to be the best Kansas City we can be.”
Doing this keeps Stephanie busy, especially as Kansas City is “one of the few places in the country where you don’t need a permit to film.” In 2017 alone “…I’ve assisted over 190 projects, and so my days, and weekends, and nights are full. Including all of the events, including the different pieces … the jobs, the marketing of Kansas City, the tracking of that kind of information so that we’re communicating what kind of economic impact we’re having. All of that [is] kind of our full-time jobs in and of themselves equally, but I need to find time and find a way to do the service work, to do the marketing work, and to do kind of the economic analysis of it.”
Throughout her career in the film industry, Stephanie has learned the camera, the teleprompter, audio mixing, directing, and producing. All of this was perfect preparation for her role as Commissioner, especially helping her deal with the two main challenges she faces: improving economic impact, and education. Education starts locally, letting folks know that they can be involved in the movie process by simply providing a location or a service. “…the way I sell a region is through locations and through our professional infrastructure, which means our crew and it means that we have equipment. One of the things that you might not think about, but that I think about on a daily basis when I read scripts and I work with products is what kinds of locations do we have that can fit that? I’m constantly wanting more and more in the location’s database, businesses, neighborhoods, homes, homes of all kinds, regular folks homes.” Local folks providing locations and services keeps the economic impact local.
Education also takes place at the state level, working with legislators and their staffs, teaching them the value of providing economic incentives to bring in serious, state-level, economic impact. When on the set of the HBO series Sharp Objects, along with the chiefs of staff of two Missouri senators, filming a “Missouri” town in Georgia (because the state of Georgia provides incentives for production companies, while Missouri doesn’t), Stephanie had a chance to drive the incentive and impact lesson home. “And then we met with the unit production manager, who’s the money guy, and he said to them ‘I’m sorry I’m the one who had to say no [to filming in Missouri].’ And he explained to them why, he gave them that piece of the education. And then he told them, he said … The question was asked and he answered honestly. … ‘How much economic impact, direct economic impact, are you spending in Georgia making this Missouri and filming here?’ And he said, ‘About $350,000 a day.’ And I’m behind them going, and I could see them going well that could have been, even if it was just the town part and nothing else in the show. “
Expect to see more film production in and around the Kansas City metropolitan area as Stephanie continues to passionately perform her duties as Commissioner of the Kansas City Film Office. To learn more, or learn how to offer your locations or services to the Film Office, visit their website at https:/www.kcfilmoffice.com/