An Interview with Wayne D. Clingman – By Duane L. Martin

Wayne Clingman is connected to a lot of film related stuff in the Midwest.  Based out of his home in Wisconsion, Mr. Clingman has been a tireless worker in the effort to make the Midwest a more film friendly place for film makers to come and practice their craft.  I recently had a chance to talk to Mr. Clingman about his current projects and what all’s going on with the Midwest film industry, the next ICFLM film festival and hie new film publication called Film Forward, which he produces with his friend and business partner, Bill Zenobia.

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 You’re currently in the planning stages for the next It Came From Lake Michigan film festival.  How’s that been going?

Wonderful! The amount of support is huge. Each day brings more excitement to the fest.
From the site (the Tommy Thompson Center State Fair Park) to talking to the local press, more folks are lining up behind ICFLM.

Part of the work you’ve been doing in getting the film festival together involves rounding up sponsors and applying for grants.  Could you tell us a little about the processes you’ve had to go through to make both things happen?

State Grants can be be a nightmare! Thankfully, with the Joint Effort Marketing Grant run by the Department of Tourism, the Staff understands film and only wants to make the process smooth. There is no such thing as a dumb question and the staff very much wants the grant to happen.
As well, the State Dept of Tourism offers lots of help from Email marketing to better rates for print advertising. If I can, I would love to give a big thanks to the whole JEM grant team.  You guys rock!

Sponsors are just like any sales job. One step at a time and do not take NO! or even FUCK NO! to heart.

Be sure to offer them something for their cash/product/service. A business is hard to run and money is hard to earn. Thank them for there time if nothing else. Ask for a referral if they can’t help, and maybe they know someone who might be able to.

Ask everyone you know what they might be able to do to help. You will be surprised what happens.
Treat your sponsors well.  Very well. With all the demands on there resources, they could have said no. And always remember, the business that said no this year might just step up big time next year.

You’ve always seemed to have an uncanny knack for locating the right people to help you with the right things.  How to you manage to find all these people?  Sometimes it almost seems like you don’t even have to find them – they just fall in your lap.

Let me say this first – God has been very big in this whole gig.  And to him the glory.  That and I have no problem asking for your help especially if you are female under 40, have red hair and…

Maybe then too, I am not doing this for me. I am doing this to have fun, make some films and bring anyone along with me who wants to come along for the ride. Because of that, folks are more willing to help than if was just about me making some cash. After folks talk to me they understand my passion and want to be part of it.

Unlike other artsy film festivals, ICFLM is about having a good time and learning something in the process.

To help at ICFLM all you need to do is ask…not pass a test.

What are some of the biggest changes we’ll see at ICFLM 2007 this year, and what exciting things are planned for the event?

Just a few.  Don’t want to let every cat out of the bag!

Premieres – We are doing three red carpet premieres with wine and cheese and the whole nine yards.  Milwaukee’s, if not Wisconsin’s elite, will be looking great walking the Red Carpet to see Hollywood production standard films that were made in Wisconsin as well as Mr. Mike “where’s my Oscar” Conway’s latest film, Exile. Bright lights big stars great films who can ask for more?

A themed gala party.  Take what I did last year, times it by 100, mix that with Mars’ great showmanship and think women in stocks.  Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to attend, you’ll get to see Bill Zenobia have a stoke.

More Stars, a larger vendor area and classes on a whole range of topics relating to independent film.

<shameless class="self promotion">This year’s ICFLM website looks pretty snazzy don’t it? (wink wink)</shameless>

Yes, the ICFLM web site rocks!!!!!  With information being obtained via the internet more than it is in print, the web pages have to rock hard, and the ICFLM site rocks the very best.

You’ve been doing something else that’s loosely connected to the film festival as well.  I’m talking about the ICFLM Film Maker Workshops you’ve been putting together.  Tell us about those, what kind of things go on there, and how they benefit the local film community?

Well the workshops allow film makers to learn more about their craft and to network with their peers. With the help of the Astor Theater, film makers, actors and crew can all gather, meet each other and find projects to work on.

I am very happy that ICFLM started the workshops. One would think that the local “film school” would be the lead on this, but they must be too busy putting hair on film and calling it art.
The Workshops are open to anyone who wants to teach or share their craft. Classes usually average about 25 people and we have a few folks who are regulars, but most come to a workshop when they can make it.

Moving on to other things, you have a new Midwest film industry related newspaper called Film Forward going with your business partner William Zenobia.  First of all, what made you guys decide to take on the challenge of running a monthly newspaper?  You had to know it would be tons of work putting it all together.

With everything going on in Wisconsin there had to be some way of getting information to those who want it.

The local Paper has no idea about film and their idea of a film review makes my dogs cry.  If it’s not Hollywood, it is not a film.

What have been some of the more difficult issues with getting the newspaper together and what are your ultimate goals with it?

Advertising.  With all the newspapers out there it is hard not to be just one of many small newspapers.  So why advertise with Film Forward?  It’s a difficult process trying to explain to a businesses why they should advertise with us and not some other local paper.

It takes time to make an impact. Film Forward is doing that and we are the first to use the whole gambit of new media to do it. Given 6 more months Film Forward will be THE film newspaper in the Midwest.

What kinds of exciting things are going on in Wisconsin  as far as film is concerned right now?

Well Film Wisconsin takes off in a few months.  We have been trying to move the date up to 7/1/07, but the fools in our State Assembly have held up the bill to make that happen.  I wish they would tell us what is wrong with good paying union jobs that film tax credits would bring. Maybe they think that we the people can only work flipping burgers or greeting people at Wal-Mart.  Me, I like to have a job with benefits.

However Visit Milwaukee has started a program called the Milwaukee Film Fund that will help duplicate the film tax credits for films made in the city of Milwaukee.

People don’t usually think of the Wisconsin as a place to scout movie locations.  What kinds of things have been going on to encourage more film makers to bring their projects to Wisconsin, and what steps are being made to create a more film friendly environment in that particular region of the country?

Tax credits are huge! Having the city of Milwaukee step up with the Milwaukee Film Fund is great.
The Racine County Visitors Bureau is blessed with a director who knows his stuff as well. Mr Blank is a great resource.
Wisconsin is a nice place with great hard working folks who will put in a day’s work for a day’s pay.
We have locations that range from a great lake (sea) to desert (Old West) to large cities (New York) and even plenty of countryside just 30 minutes away from the center of a large city.

You hit some snags with that pro-film legislation you helped to pass last year in your state.  Tell us what’s been going on with that, what the snags have been and why they’re happening.

In A nut shell one State Senator, Russell Decker, is holding up moving the tax credits forward. Myself, I think that someone should test his office water.  It doesn’t help that members of his own party will not call him out on this, such as State Senator John Lehman from my area. Both ran pro-union pro-job campaigns, so what’s the deal here guys? . I am also surprised that our Governor will not rattle a cage or two. This is not about Republicans or Democrats it is about good jobs in Wisconsin.

This state spends millions giving bio-tech firms grants for little return. With film we spend NOTHING,  have millions spent in Wisconsin AND provide great jobs. But unless God himself steps in, it’ll be January of 2008 before those tax credits kick in.

Are you disappointed with the politicians in your state, or do you see it as just more of the usual political games and something to be expected?

I am angry at their foolishness. Wisconsin could be the best state in the nation to do film, but right now we still lag behind everyone. Why? In theory our guys at the Capitol are the best and brightest I know two that seem to be dumb as rocks. See above for names.

Let me say that a whole group of folks have called Russ Decker to ask, beg and plead for him to change his mind. Groups like:

Mayors of Milwaukee-Madison-Racine
UW Film Clubs
Maybe they should remember this when Decker and Lehman are up for reelection.

Out of all the things you’ve been involved with, what do you consider to be your biggest personal achievement and the most personally and / or professionally satisfying for you?

My IMDB credit for Tagged!

Oh yes and understanding how just a few folks can change a whole way of thinking. From a few folks around a table to the creation of Film Wisconsin tells why we live in the best country in the word! With hard work anything can be done.

Each day brings me in contact with so many great folks and the chance to learn about not only film but how many in this area are touched by what film can do be it educate or entertain.

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap this up?

I want to thank everyone who helped me last year and is helping this year. If anyone out there is interested in joining the team bring the world It Came From Lake Michigan 2007 Please contact me!
I would like to give a special thanks to:

Duane Martin (Best web guy in the world)
Bill Zenobia    (Hardest working actor in Wisconsin)
Kelly Marcott (Detroit BABY! My Sister City!)
Redheads with large… (Why I make Film)