'Whale of an impact: estimate credit 1,300 jobs, $16.5 million to film


ANCHORAGE – An economic analysis released today by the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation estimates the production of “Everybody Loves Whales” had a $16.5 million impact on the Alaska economy. The report also credits the film with employing more than 1,300 Alaskans.

The report was prepared by McDowell Group for Evergreen Films and NANA Development Corporation to determine the impact a major motion picture production had on the state. With scenes filmed across the state from Seward to Barrow, the study takes into account both direct and indirect economic effects of the production.

Of the estimated $16.5 million spent in the state, $11.7 million accounts for wages and the purchases of goods and services from Alaska businesses. The additional $4.8 million represents production company spending in Alaska, coupled with local spending of new payroll dollars generated by the project.

The study also estimates that more than 1,300 Alaskans earned income directly related to the filming of “Whales.” This includes 175 crew, 48 cast members with speaking parts and about 1,100 movie extras. Based on hours worked and wages earned, the production workforce translates into the equivalent of 110 jobs and a total of $4 million spent on Alaska wages.

“‘Everybody Loves Whales’ is an economic success story for the Alaska film industry,” said AEDC President and CEO Bill Popp. “More than 80 businesses benefited — everything from hardware stores to security firms, caterers to plumbing and heating companies. The spend averages out to $285,000 of economic activity for each day of the 58-day shoot.”

The full report, available online on AEDC’s website, http://www.aedcweb.com, outlines the direct and indirect involvement of Alaska businesses and includes an overview of other feature film, documentary, television and national commercial productions that occurred in Alaska since 2010.

“This report shows that even the small jobs help add up to big numbers once we get these productions to commit to shooting in Alaska,” said Brice Habeger, a Juneau filmmaker who scouted locations for “Whales.”

Mike Devlin of Anchorage’s Evergreen Films agrees that local businesses and investors will now see that a big opportunity exists for the film industry to grow in Alaska. “Coupled with the extension of the film incentive program, Alaska will continue to attract producers as this new film industry is successfully developed by Alaskans for the long term,” Devlin said.

Evergreen Films and its partners are currently discussing further infrastructure investments in the Alaska film industry.

“The information sends a crucial message to Alaskans,” said NANA Development Corporation Vice President of Communications and Marketing Robin Kornfield. “Feature films bring dollars and jobs to Alaska. For NANA Development Corporation this is what we hope is just the beginning. As the film industry in Alaska grows NANA will be working to assure that our shareholders, and other talented Alaskans, are trained and ready to fill the many employment needs on a movie set. We are excited to be a part of a growing new business sector in Alaska.”

Detailed information regarding “Whales” will be available from the Alaska Film Office later this year. The preliminary study was prepared by the McDowell Group with most of the information gathered from various production companies and vendors involved with the project. 

AEDC, a private, non-profit corporation, operating since 1987, promotes growth and diversity in the Anchorage economy, and works to improve the business climate and standard of living in Anchorage.

For more information, go to http://www.aedcweb.com.