A process that took at least 2½ years to complete finally came to fruition with the notification that Harker Heights is now a Film Friendly Texas City, as officially proclaimed by the Texas Film Commission.
During the Sept. 7 Vision XXI 2017 trip to Austin for Legislative Day, one of the presenters was Heather Page, director of the Texas Film Commission.
Page made the presentation to Mary Shabunia, the chamber’s vice president of development and coordinator of Vision XXI, in the absence of Gina Pence, president and CEO of the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce.
The Vision XXI class responded with surprise and thunderous applause.
In an interview with the Herald, Pence said the chamber staff knew the city was going to get the designation but wasn’t sure when.
“This was no easy task to get the certification, and we could not have completed this effort without the support of our partners and the City of Harker Heights,” Pence said.
“This all began with my attending a workshop dealing with the visitors and tourism side of the chamber,” Pence said, “This was a goal of mine when we began to take over and fulfill our tourism obligations within the chamber. I was able to connect and network with the film industry side in addition to staff in the governor’s office who work for the film commission.”
Page was very helpful but it was something that the chamber realized that they could not complete alone, Pence said.
Pence completed all of the required workshops but the next portion was working with the city. “They helped us with simplifying the permit process and getting it organized so if someone came into town, they would know we were Film Friendly,” Pence said.
“We are now ready for someone to come into our city and make movies, commercials and other video projects,” Pence said.
“Our next step was to get with a professional photographer who took numerous still photos that shows every feature of Harker Heights,” she said. “Those photos are on the Texas Film Commission website and are viewed by film producers, directors, writers and others in the industry.
Pence said, “This website is how they get connected with us and we hope they like what they see.”
During the process, the chamber has received recognition through community partners and business members and from the film industry.
“Our community working together has made this successful,” Pence said.
Not only does the Texas Film Commission work with film and video producers, it also regulates the video gaming industry in the state.
Pence said, “We are very happy to receive this designation. Just getting this official paper from the governor’s office makes us proud to hang it in the chamber.”