Nevada Film Office announces revenues

The Nevada Film Office had a lot of business to take care of at its Jan. 26 news conference at Little Buddha restaurant at the Palms in Las Vegas. Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt was on hand to announce the state’s production revenues for 2003, to present awards to the top three finalists of the NFO’s annual Screenwriters Competition, and to present the Silver Nitrate Award to CSI creator Anthony Zuiker in recognition of his contributions to the “quality, visibility, and/or success of filmmaking in Nevada.”

NFO’s Jeanne Corcoran introduced Bob Shriver, director of the Commission of Economic Development for Nevada, who cited the screenwriters for their “wonderful examples of creative energy” before handing the floor over to Hunt. Hunt announced last year’s revenue results, which totaled more than $104 million.

Hunt began with a recollection of what she saw for the future of filmmaking in the Silver State when she helped start the Nevada Film Commission in 1986. “It was my belief then as it is now that this industry was going to be a major industry and a major player in our economic-diversification efforts in Nevada,” she said.

Hunt and the NFO’s efforts seem to be paying off. Hunt said the NFO was responsible for channeling more than a billion dollars into the local economy since its inception, as well as invaluable advertising for the state’s tourism industry. Since 1998, film revenues have doubled in the state. Nearly $50 million now comes from television production, thanks to the success of shows such as CSI.

So it came as no surprise that CSI creator Zuiker was the recipient of the Silver Nitrate Award, which was co-presented by the Las Vegas Film Critics Society. Zuiker was not able to attend; his mother accepted the award on his behalf.

The winners of the Screenwriters Competition were on hand, however. Aaron Sicherman of Syracuse, N.Y., took third place for his comedy A Plummer in Vegas, and Burbank’s Andrea Gyertson Nasfell won second for Serpent Watch, a mystery about a mythological sea serpent that lives in a lake in a remote Nevada town. Jennifer Weber’s sci-fi thriller Civil Servant took the top prize. Her story centers around a slacker college student who stumbles across a classified government plan to breed children with extra-sensory powers.

It was the first time a Las Vegas resident took first prize in the competition, which recognizes writers who choose Nevada as the setting for their screenplays.