Organization launched to support Milwaukee’s filmmaking community

Former DreamWorks executive tapped to lead Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance

DreamWorks-SKG feature film development executive Suzanne Jurva has been hired as director of the Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:12 pm

Milwaukee Film, the organizer of the city’s annual film festival, has announced the launch of a new organization aimed at supporting filmmaking in Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance is dedicated to advocating, educating, networking and financially supporting the southeastern Wisconsin film industry in an effort to turn the region into a leader in film and media production, according to Milwaukee Film.

“It’s trying to build more access to grants, very similar to what Milwaukee Film offers through our Brico Forward Fund for local filmmakers, and making it easier for films to be made here in Wisconsin, whether that be through potential legislation for better tax deals that other states offer, and being an advocate for the filmmaking community in all of the many roles and jobs included in that,” said Emily Foster, spokesperson for Milwaukee Film.

DreamWorks-SKG feature film development executive Suzanne Jurva has been hired as director of the Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance.

Former DreamWorks-SKG feature film development executive Suzanne Jurva has been hired as director of the organization. Jurva created and headed the research department at DreamWorks-SKG and has worked on films including Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln, Gladiator and The Prince of Egypt.

“I’m thrilled to join the MFA and to support the art and business of filmmaking in southeastern Wisconsin,” Jurva said. “Milwaukee is a vibrant community of storytellers and the opportunity to take these deep roots in film to the next level is very exciting to me.”

Jurva is based out of Milwaukee Film’s office at 229 E. Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee.

About $200,000 for the initiative has been raised to date, including $50,000 from Bader Philanthropies. Support has also come from Milwaukee Film, the Heil Family Foundation and the Herzfeld Foundation.

The Milwaukee Filmmaker Alliance will be chaired by Steve Laughlin, founding partner and executive chairman at Laughlin Constable; Sitora Takanaev, filmmaker and founder of Cream City Casting; and Jonathan Jackson, artistic and executive director of Milwaukee Film.

“Film now bridges art and commerce like never before,” Laughlin said. “Filmmakers are in high demand with the explosion of streaming channels and media outlets. Films are finding more niches, there’s more demand for episodic scripted television shows, reality shows are hot and documentaries are being used to air issues. Animation, gaming and virtual reality will challenge a new generation of artists and entice new audiences. The digital age is putting art into motion and Milwaukee has an opportunity to be at the leading edge of this movement.”

The organization’s executive committee includes individual directors, producers, film funders, photographers, writers and community members, and leaders from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Milwaukee Public Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Milwaukee PBS, among others.

A recent ICF International study commissioned as part of the initiative found that the film industry job market in southeastern Wisconsin has grown by 10 percent to include nearly 15,000 jobs over the past five years. In 2014, those jobs contributed $1.55 billion in annual sales and $530 million in labor income to the economy in the region, according to the study.

The full results of the study will be released in November. 

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