By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Rather, it is the image of a hot-air balloon.
Among the many things for which MacCallum takes heat is the state film office's balloon, purchased a few years ago for the reported price of $50,000 or more.
Though the balloon has made appearances in some of the movie office's print ads, its effectiveness as a marketing device has been ridiculed almost since its first flight.
"I like your balloon," says one producer, imitating a mogul looking up at the balloondoggle. "Can I come spend $10 million in your state?" MacCallum has been directing Arizona's film- and TV-development efforts for about two decades.
Prior to that, he worked as a grip, both locally, on a Dick Van Dyke TV series shot for a time in Carefree, and on the island sets of Hawaii Five-0. A definition of grip, provided by an industry source: "He held things."
MacCallum at first agreed to be interviewed for this story, but backed out under orders from higher-ups at the Arizona Department of Commerce, which oversees the movie office.
Don Harris, a former Arizona Republic reporter turned DOC spokesman, also offered to answer questions before spinning an about-face.
"Nobody from Commerce, including Bill MacCallum, is authorized to speak to New Times," he said, after both MacCallum and Dave Guthrie, deputy Commerce director, had scheduled interviews.
Harris wouldn't say who unauthorized them. On second thought, perhaps a Cold War propaganda film would be the more appropriate vehicle for this story. @rule:
@body:MacCallum's critics have been worked up recently not over the film-office balloon, but rather by an attempt by the director to save the state some money.
The movie office has for years published its own directory of state film workers. City-funded film-development offices in Phoenix and Tucson sponsor similar pamphlets, which are mailed to producers who inquire about the local talent pool. In recent years, a privately produced pamphlet has been published by a nonprofit organization named 602 Arizona. This summer, MacCallum decided to end some of the redundancy and fold the state's directory, officially replacing it with 602's booklet.
According to 602 president Randy Murray, MacCallum agreed to purchase for the state a $2,500 back-page ad in the directory, plus monthly data-base updates (to fax to particularly anxious producers) for an additional $2,500.
While working out the deal, MacCallum told Murray that killing the state's directory while turning the job over to 602 would likely save the movie office more than $15,000 in clerical costs every year.
(The movie office's budget has held at just under $500,000 the past three years--on par with most of its direct competitors around the country. The staff size is five.)
Reaction to the move, at least among a segment of the local film community, was not immediately positive.
"I'm a taxpayer," says Gay Gilbert, a Scottsdale-based casting director. "I want to know why Bill MacCallum had the right to turn the state book over to 602 without a bid.
"The point isn't whether 602 has it or not. I have nothing against 602. I want to know as a taxpayer, let alone being in this business, why this person can take a state contract and give it to someone without a bid."
Also wanting to know was Tom Hilderbrand, director of Tucson's movie office. His objections: ù Despite outreach efforts on 602's part, southern Arizona has been underrepresented in the independent book; only about 10 percent of the addresses in the directory are located south of the Gila River. ù Hilderbrand was immediately vocal in his opposition to the fee schedule used by 602. In the past, movie craftspeople have had to pay dues to the group, plus an extra $50 or so to have their credits "verified" by 602 volunteers (who Murray says actually sit around a table for a whole day and check r‚sum‚s). These verified listings run in the book in bold type. Unverified free listings always have been accepted, but are displayed in faint type among the bolder, paid entries.
"To turn it over to an outside organization that says we're gonna charge you $50 to do it, well, then I get to questioning just why are we doing this," says Hilderbrand, whose Tucson booklet neither verifies entries nor charges for listings. "There's a lot of things that almost force you to pay the dues to this organization and join it. And I have a problem with that."
ù Finally, Hilderbrand questioned the need for the state to buy a $2,500 back-page ad in the 602 booklet. "If the guy's already called to get the book, he's already thinking about Arizona," he says. "Why put an ad in it?"
Adds Hilderbrand: "It went from the state producing a production manual to this, basically overnight." Very recently, it went back. A meeting was held October 29 to discuss MacCallum's decision. Reportedly present were Jim Marsh (then the departing state Commerce director), MacCallum, 602's Murray, Hilderbrand and a few supporting players.
The meeting was held in the law office of one Robert "Bob" Fannin, son of a former Arizona governor. The younger Fannin now presides over the Arizona Governor's Motion Picture and Television Advisory Board, more about which in a later reel (preview: "They're dilettantes," says one observer). 602 president Murray says he left the meeting feeling positive about the deal's prospects.