View Full Version : Oklahoma City Film District Meeting

01-17-2006, 09:39 PM

The Oklahoma City Film District Task Force will be meeting on January 18, 2006 in Oklahoma City, at 5:30pm. The meeting, one of three, will be hosted by the Film District Steering Committee. The Oklahoma City Film District Task Force formed at the beginning of 2004 and has worked toward one of its many goals to create a new downtown Film District within Oklahoma City geared toward motion picture and music production, while preserving unique historical film structures in the proposed area.

The January meeting will focus on Brainstorming the Opportunities about the proposed Oklahoma City Film District. The following two meetings will focus on Visioning and Design and Participatory Editing.

All interested stakeholders are invited to attend the three planning sessions. Stakeholders are those who live, work, or own property in the district, as well as those that simply have an interest in its future development. The map on the back of the following linked invitation shows the boundaries for the planning area. The meeting will take place on Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 5:30pm in the Basement Conference room at Claim Management Resources (CMR), 615 N. Classen Blvd. The building is located between Western and Classen and NW 5th and 6th streets. Enter through north door and take the elevator to the basement. Vending machines are on site.

To view the official invite, proposed district map, and take part in an online discussion, visit

01-18-2006, 10:11 AM

Thanks for posting this. I work for a major film company here in the metro and will pass this information along. I would love to get more involved with these efforts. Thanks.

01-18-2006, 12:30 PM
I look forward to meeting with you and engourage you to take part in our continued planning.


01-19-2006, 08:15 AM
Excellent meeting Bradley.

I had to leave early as the meeting was running long. A huge crowd. Much much larger than I anticipated. I need to get you my email address so you can put me on your mailing list and get me plugged in on the task force

02-01-2006, 10:22 AM
Here's the latest:


Contact: Bradley Wynn
(405) 833-1727


The Oklahoma Film Society announced today it will move into the former Paramount Pictures film exchange building by February 1, 2006. The building, located at 701 W. Sheridan, is in the 'historical keystone' of the recently announced downtown Oklahoma City Film District.
The Oklahoma Film Society has worked toward creating the proposed district since June 2004. Recent opportunities and community support has allowed the organization to become the first of two new film related tenants of the district. The other, Oklahoma Casting, will also occupy offices in the former Paramount building. Bradley Wynn, Founder and President of the Oklahoma Film Society and creator and Chair of the Oklahoma City Film District Task Force says, "I am extremely pleased to find the Society in a position to take such a bold step into the future of the area by becoming one of its first film tenants. We hope that our move will encourage others to come down and join us."
The imposing structure was completed by 1930 and housed Paramount Pictures, Paramount-Famous-Lasky Corp, Griffith Amusement Company, Video Independent Theatres, Crescent Film Company, Majestic Pictures Corp., Sack Amusement Company, Theatre Poster Service, Producers Release Corp, Southwest Theatres, Inc., Southwest Theatre Equipment, Vumore Company, K. Lee Williams Film Exchange and the Film Coffee Shop (Floyd Griffith Restaurant). When serving as home to the Paramount Exchange in the mid-1930s, The Oklahoman newspaper reported on February 23, 1936, that Russell Godwin operated a one-man cinema house for those who wanted to see the exchange films. Godwin, who was not employed by Paramount, ran the entire operation. He was the projectionist, the manager, the usher, and the janitor. He charged each of his customers 50 cents per reel. The theatre seated only 50 people, but it became a venue where all major new films were reviewed for booking. The audience was usually composed of theatre owners, theatre managers, film salesmen, film exchange managers, and newspaper critics. The Oklahoman is quoted saying “He exhibits films for the exchanges of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, RKO Radio, Fox Twentieth Century, Paramount and others.” This former screening room will become the Oklahoma Film Society's new Russell Godwin Studio, available for future screenings, lectures, an upcoming weekly television series, and the Society's monthly meetings.
Building owner Ron Smith says, "I haven't sold the property because I want to be part of what's happening." Smith, who acquired the building nearly three years ago, states that he is willing to discuss affordable leasing options to any who might want to relocate to the film district now rather than later. "I have a building that's ready to go." Smith said.
Other property owners in the keystone are also seeking future tenants. Most notably, in the marqueed Film Exchange building, directly across the street from the Paramount and the historic jewel of the new district.
With the advent of jet technology and instantaneous communication in the 1960's, the need for intricate film exchange systems gradually ended and former Film Row began to perish. By the 1970's Paramount's former structure became vacant until the International Crystal Company acquired it in 1984. Crystal moved from the building into its current facilities east of the Paramount in the early 1990's. It remained vacant until Smith's purchase.
Today, the structure does not exhibit its former glory, but Ron Smith plans to change that. "Once we can get the area to a point where changes can be made without fear of vandalism and I can bring in leasing revenue, I'd love to remove all the added layers and reveal the beautiful history beneath it all."
Revitalization and development of the proposed district will begin this year.
The Oklahoma Film Society was founded to promote, educate, and provide for the Oklahoma film industry and its communities. For more information about the Society and its many projects visit or call (405) 833-1727.
Paramount owner Ron Smith can be contacted at (405) 618-2680 or by email

Images Available below can be emailed:

Paramount Pictures Building 1943 - Photo Credit - Oklahoma Film Society Collection
Paramount Pictures Building Today - Photo Credit - Dr. Dale Metzler
Photo of Proposed Film District - Photo Credit - James Murati
Oklahoma City Film District Logo
Oklahoma Film Society Logo
Oklahoma City Film District Map

02-01-2006, 12:59 PM
Got ya on the list and look forward to seeing you again in March. I have a newsletter THE ROW about the film district planning on the NEWS page of our website and will be putting up the February one today. All the meeting info is in it for March.

Also, the Film Society will be meeting on February 11th at our new digs for a big clean-up in preperation for our first monthly meeting there on February 18th. I'd love for you to come down and check us out!

Thanks for posting and yes, by the way, the meeting was very impressive. What I most remember was not the 'quantity' of those present, but the 'quality'.


02-01-2006, 01:23 PM
Indeed. I was actually spreading word on the district today in an industry meeting. I too was impressed not just at the quantity of how many people were there, but the quality of those people

02-13-2006, 11:02 AM
The race is on to save historic Film Exchange

By Steve Lackmeyer
The Oklahoman

A quick glance at Sheridan and California Avenues west of the Myriad Gardens in Oklahoma City might suggest the strip isn't the best bet for downtown's next success story.
Film district

The odds seem so high. City planners and developers forgot this stretch as they recast most of downtown this past decade as a 21st century, major-league city. Sidewalks are crumbling, cracks filled with weeds and about half of the old street lights don't turn on at night.

Homeless people and panhandlers nap in entryways of abandoned buildings by day, sometimes walking over to nearby fast-food restaurants to beg for some change.

But a mix of developers, civic leaders and idealistic filmmakers say this last, undeveloped corner of downtown once known as the "Film Exchange" could become yet another destination spot.

Amidst the dreamers, Bradley Wynn and the Oklahoma Film Society appear to be the most ambitious -- and last week signed a lease to bring life back to the district's former Paramount Pictures building.

"We had Paramount, Warner Brothers, Fox, Columbia Pictures all right here," Wynn said. "The first automobile commercial was shot here. The birth of cable television occurred here. Even the Mafia was involved. There is a lot of great history in the area and it would be a shame to lose it."

Where movies were chosen
During the heyday of downtown movie palaces, theater owners screened movies and bought supplies and equipment in the Film Exchange district, centered at Sheridan and Lee. The last vestige of that era, Oklahoma Theatre Supply, opened in 1930 and operated until 2004 upon the death of its owner, Maxine Peak.

Wynn met Peak shortly before her death, just as he was starting to explore the area's history.

"The area was so dilapidated, so much in danger of being destroyed," Wynn said. "Maxine Peak passed away with a broken heart, in my opinion. This area was her life."

Peak left Wynn with some of the vintage silent projectors, blueprints from long-lost downtown theaters and other antiques he hopes to display in an Oklahoma motion picture museum.

But more than being a tribute to days gone by, Wynn thinks the Film Exchange can once again be a thriving area for the state's filmmakers.

In just the past few weeks, the former Paramount Building has already become an early seedling for that dream. Oklahoma Casting recently became the building's second tenant, and owner Ron Smith reports leases are being negotiated with two other independent film companies.

Wynn said he learned early on that Oklahoma's film community needs a base -- one he thinks could be the Film Exchange.

"There was a cohesiveness problem, communication problem -- one guy who might need lighting, but didn't know this other guy who could provide the lighting," Wynn said.

He also argues Hollywood is filled with Oklahoma natives who might want to return home.

"Today, the running joke in Hollywood is that 50 percent of it is made up of people from Oklahoma or with Oklahoma connections," Wynn said. "Ron Howard was from Duncan, Brad Pitt was from Shawnee. The list goes on and on. My question is, 'Why didn't they stay? Why did they move?'"

If the Film Exchange could offer the infrastructure needed by filmmakers, Wynn argues, maybe the next Ron Howard and Brad Pitt will stick around.

Property owners seem ready to help that dream come true.

Smith, a transplant from the northwest United States, bought the former Paramount Building in 2003. His plans include a restoration that would remove the fake siding and paint -- once the building is leased and he is assured it can be safe from vandalism and break-ins.

"When we came to Oklahoma City, we saw a mini-Seattle," Smith said. "We see that it's going to happen; it's just a question of when and how."

Veteran Oklahoma City businessman and developer Chip Fudge is making the same bet. When the Oklahoma Film Association recently hosted its first brain-storming meeting about the district, attendees included notable developers such as Fudge, whose early efforts included the Paseo and Kamps Grocery, and Richard Tanenbaum, whose downtown projects include the Montgomery and the Park-Havey Apartments.

Fudge said he was drawn to the area by architect David Wanzer, whose office is in Deep Deuce.

"I try to go where I can find undervalued real estate that is cool," Fudge said. "We felt like we could take this and do something -- and it has a very marketable brand, having been the film exchange."

Fudge owns the actual "Film Exchange" building, 700 W Sheridan, and is working with Wanzer and owners of Bricktown's LIT lounge to renovate the property into lofts on the top floor and street level shops, restaurants and galleries.

"I have fun with these," Fudge said. "I have a day job that keeps me busy, but I really enjoy finding real estate that I can put back together."

Challenges remain
The momentum, Wynn said, points to the Film Exchange becoming another vibrant downtown district. But the area also comes with some challenges that won't be easy to overcome.

Unlike the rest of downtown, the Film Exchange area has seen no sidewalk or lighting improvements in at least a quarter-century. More than three dozen people showed up at the recent brain-storming session, and concerns about problems associated with nearby homeless shelters were raised throughout the discussion.

Councilwoman Ann Simank, who has supported similar efforts in the Plaza District on NW 16 and in Capitol Hill, encouraged the filmmakers, developers and property owners to form an organization, and to pursue a Main Street designation that could help pay for their efforts.

She also indicated the city could "streetscape" the area, giving it new sidewalks and lighting, as part of a bond issue that will be presented to voters in the next few years. Simank, however, wasn't bombarded with demands that the nearby homeless shelters be moved elsewhere.

By being the first to move in, Wynn hopes to show others the area is ready for redevelopment. He is quick to remind others that Bricktown and Deep Deuce also once struggled with the homeless issue.

"It's an obstacle just like anything," Wynn said. "Our goal is to embrace the homeless shelters, to better their environment, their living conditions, and to look at things we're doing that might provide them with opportunities."

02-16-2006, 05:10 PM
I'm compiling the email database now for our film district mailing list. can you send me your email addy so i can add it to it? I thought I had it already.


PS - if anyone else would like to be added to the list, just let me know at

02-17-2006, 07:51 AM
Just did, can't wait for our first meeting in the new offices in the film district. See you tomorrow!

Urban Pioneer
02-19-2006, 12:11 PM
I would suggest that this area immediately pursue signage of some sort as most people haven't a clue where it is. It seems that this area was completely overlooked by Maps planners. I will be meeting with Dave Lopez soon and will ask him about signage.

02-20-2006, 07:20 AM
Urban Pioneer, this issue is already being addressed, it's a little more complicated than just buying them and implementing them. Bradley could probably fill you in more than I. Our meeting was cancelled this weekend but you can call me if you want more details about what's been going on.