The Woodlands Film Commission restrategizes under township control

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Although tourism in The Woodlands has declined as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, The Woodlands’ convention and visitors bureau, Visit The Woodlands, has looked for other ways to increase the area’s profile and bring new business to the area, President Nick Wolda said.

In January, Visit The Woodlands took over management of The Woodlands Film Commission, which since 2009 had been overseen by The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The chamber had had a different focus than the film commission, so [Visit The Woodlands] said ... it’s all about visitor services; that’s a program we’d like to keep going,” Wolda said.

Visit The Woodlands sought the Texas Film Friendly designation for The Woodlands Township from the Texas Film Commission as part of that effort in March.

“We have never been aggressive in marketing The Woodlands as a location, so that’s something that has changed that we’re looking at,” Wolda said.

As for the economic boost filming could give The Woodlands, the industry has brought $1.2 billion to Texas in the last 10 years, according to Visit The Woodlands, and the area has many of the attributes filmmakers seek.

That includes proximity to a major airport, first-class hotels, dining and entertainment options, according to Visit The Woodlands.

Another way The Woodlands has boosted its profile is by earning the Texas Film Friendly designation it sought from the State of Texas Film Commission, Wolda said.

“Once we got that ... phone calls started to come in,” Wolda said.

Wolda said a full-length feature children’s film, “The Bracelet of Bordeaux,” was shot in The Woodlands in 2007.

Filmmaker Frank Eakin said he used a community model similar to that used by community theaters for the production, involving local students and parents.

“The community model allowed us to bring together resources of The Woodlands that a normal film wouldn’t do,” Eakin said.

Eakin made the film before the commission was formed, but he said he has continued to film in The Woodlands for his company, Eakin Films, including three commercials this year for a renewable energy company he founded.

Wolda said this is one of many strategies that could increase the area’s profile. As of late October, Visit The Woodlands’ year-to-date hotel occupancy tax collections through September, which help to fund Visit the Woodlands, had reached $3.2 million. The amount budgeted for the year to date at that time was $4.93 million. The lowest revenue months in 2020 were May and June, when hotel occupancy tax collection was more than 90% below budget.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


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