Weatherford Star-Telegram

Could this North Texas city be the next big hot spot for film productions?

Places such as the Parker County Courthouse help make Weatherford an attractive location for film projects. The city has been designated a Film Friendly Community by the Texas Film Commission.
Places such as the Parker County Courthouse help make Weatherford an attractive location for film projects. The city has been designated a Film Friendly Community by the Texas Film Commission. Courtesy

Folks like to go to friendly places, especially if they are going to be working there.

With that in mind, the city of Weatherford has now been certified as Film Friendly by the Texas Film Commission (TFC).

This means that the city has gone through the three-step process dictated by the TFC to be listed and supportive of all film activity in the Metroplex — encouraging production to head west to Weatherford, of course.

“Everyone benefits from a film, from the smallest individual homeowner, who can make lots of money if their property is selected as a location, and/or many actors like to stay in homes while filming,” said Debra Wakeland, Weatherford Main Street manager/historic preservation officer. “I remember Sally Field paying $500 per day to stay in a historic property in Waxahachie, when ‘Places In The Heart’ was filmed.”

Wakeland said if an Academy Award-winning movie is filmed in an area, it brings a forever return.

“People who fall in love with a film tend to want to visit the location site, thus, stay, play, dine and fill up with gas before they depart, a super win for the film friendly location,” she said.

To qualify, city officials attended a Film Friendly workshop in Lufkin last November, adopted guidelines for filming and applied for commercial film status.

Weatherford City Manager Sharon Hayes is eager for the city to bid, attract and welcome the film industry as regulars to her town.

“Being identified as a Film Friendly City allows the opportunity for projects to occur in our community which have the potential to impact our local economy, as well as promote local talent,” Hayes said.

Along with filmmakers coming to town and bringing in their own crew and actors, local citizens often land jobs as extras for the production.

Wakeland said having city management on board is critical in attracting filmmakers.

“Producers, along with those who fund projects, like to know that our city understands what is needed in order to produce a production,” she said. “Everything from movies, commercials, video, any other type of production, would require such things as street closures, citizen and business real estate sites, literally hundreds of other details, which only a city would understand.”

Wakeland said Weatherford is attractive for filming for many reasons, the most important being location.

“We can be anything productions are looking for from western to Victorian, etc.,” she said.

Wakeland cited as an example the Santa Fe Depot, which houses the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce and was built in 1908, as a setting for a Western film shoot. She also noted that Weatherford can serve as settings for small town, deep south, north, west, and east geographic locations.

“There is only one thing that the City of Weatherford cannot be, big city. And guess what? Big city, is just 25 minutes away, Fort Worth,” she said. “We are also located within one hour of a major airport, thus being able to pay union wages, which is yet another super perk.”

Wakeland also referenced Weatherford’s rich history as another attraction to filmmakers. The city is called the Cutting Horse Capital of the World.

“Anyone needing a ranch, we are a one-stop destination,” she said.

Wakeland recalled that cattle driver Oliver Loving is buried in Weatherford’s Greenwood Cemetery, fulfilling Loving’s dying request to his friend, Charles Goodnight, following an attack by Indians in New Mexico in 1867. It is the inspiration behind Texas author Larry McMurtry’s novel “Lonesome Dove.”

Weatherford is no stranger to the film industry. As recently as 2015, the movie “Path to Gallows Road,” produced by Therese Moncrief and partner Mary Jean Bentley, was filmed in Weatherford, Aledo, Benbrook and Fort Worth. The family faith production was showcased during a film festival.

Wakeland said upcoming productions include working with a Texas TV Series named “On This Site.”

The TFC maintains a digital library of photographs highlighting a wider range of potential filming locations available for use in films, television shows, commercials, music videos and multimedia projects. Wakeland is requesting folks to submit any type of digital photos to the Main Street office.

“These might include ranches, farm houses, downtown, uptown, historical structures, parks, restaurants, bars, small businesses, schools, hospitals, scenic roads, historic buildings, barns, caves, gyms, industrial sites, clean-up sites, the more the merrier,” she said. “One never knows what is needed in the production lineup.”

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