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‘Extreme Makeover’ paid off for Kitsap

The recent Kitsap County visit by “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” had a positive impact on the region that went beyond the lickety-split construction of one family’s new home.

“Extreme Makeover gave us an economic spike during a traditionally slow time of the year,” said Kitsap County Visitors and Convention Bureau director Grant Griffin. “It was a smooth and well-put-together process that was a marvelous thing for the local economy. It had a huge positive impact and gave us publicity that we couldn’t have purchased at any price.”

Griffin’s remarks were part of the VCB’s annual meeting on Wednesday. The meeting featured remarks by Suzy Kellett, director of the Washington State Film Office.

“We were the first point of contact between the show and the county,” she said. “We assured them we could get 250 available hotel rooms and got the county to expedite the building permits.”

Kellett said Washington’s growing film industry represents a clean, desirable way to support local communities.

“Film shoots hire local people, pump money into the local economy and then go away,” she said. “This is literally found money.”

It’s also very competitive, with about 300 promotional offices operating worldwide to persuade filmmakers to use their locations.

“Whoever gets there first will get the business,” she said. “They do a broadcast e-mail of their needs and you have to respond immediately if you have what they want.”

Throughout, it is important to not oversell the location.

“The worst thing that can happen is getting a director to fall in love with something he will never get,” she said.

Even if a movie decides to shoot elsewhere, Washington can still get a piece of the action. Many studios use an acoustically perfect church in Bothell to record movie scores, and the video game market is also increasing rapidly.

Commercials can also be lucrative, and Kennett said that anyone who knows of a scenic, easily controlled stretch of road for a car commercial should contact her office.

Griffin’s presentation expressed optimism for the local tourism industry, citing the VCB’s Web site, www.visitkitsap.com, as the most valuable tool for recruiting tourism.

Additionally, the regular e-mail newsletter has more than 21,000 recipients.

“We cover all 50 states and 84 countries,” he said. “Although we are not so strong in Greenland and some of the Balkan states. Maybe we’ll have to start a direct mail campaign to recruit some of those folks.”

Griffin predicts an increase, promising “extraordinary growth from projects we have already started.”

The VCB also used the meeting to install its new officers: president Shawn Cucciardi, first vice president John Clauson, second vice president Donn Fountain and treasurer Ed Johanson.

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