Volume 105, Number 40 - October 2, 2008
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Tourism DVD still in the dark
The promotional video funded by the county’s tourism board has been completed and is ready for viewing. Then again, maybe not.
The video’s status is still unclear, and the timeline for its release is just as ambiguous.
In late spring of 2007, the Sublette County Joint Tourism Board decided to produce a promotional video of the county’s abundant outdoor activities. By summer, the tourism board had contracted filmmakers Ryan Coston and Fred Pflughoft to shoot and produce the video. Funded by lodging tax revenues, the tourism board budgeted $35,000 for the summer project, and an additional $20,000 for a winter video, which was scheduled to be shot this past winter.
“During the winter time, I left many phone calls,” said Coston. “And (former board chairman John) Godfrey disappeared off the face of the earth and never returned my calls.”
The winter footage was never shot, and the summer video is not yet available, despite promises by the tourism board that it would be released no later than this summer. And in fact, the summer video was initially scheduled for release last fall.
In a Roundup article from Oct. 18, 2007, tourism board member and former chairman Godfrey stated that the Visitor Center should be wired up to show the video by Thanksgiving of 2007, and should be available for purchase by Christmas that same year. By spring of 2008, the video was nowhere to be found, and had not yet been viewed by the tourism board.
As it stands now, the tourism board has seen the video. But no members of the public will be viewing it for some time. The rationale for the delay varies, depending on whom you ask.
“The DVD is still there,” said Godfrey. “We have not come to terms for setting up a viewing area. That’s what we’re waiting to see.”
According to Pflughoft, who worked with Coston on producing the video, the issue is largely content.
“Part of it’s formatting (the Blu-ray Disc to a conventional DVD), but most of it’s content,” said Pflughoft. “We have a bunch of stuff that we have to reshoot. And we’re still trying to get together and get those things ironed out.”
For Mindi Crabb, marketing consultant for the tourism board, it’s a matter of formatting and viewing location.
“We worked with local filmmakers to make the DVD that would be shown in the visitor’s center,” she said. “And I think they were a bit ahead of their time. They did it on a Blu-ray disc…and yes, it could be played as soon as everyone agrees on where it should be played.”
When it will be made available for public viewing is still up for debate.
“The original plan was to have it available by this summer,” said Pflughoft. “But I don’t think we’re actually going to have it finished and available ‘til next summer.”
Godfrey is a bit more optimistic.
“We’re at a point now where we’re probably not concerned about getting it up and running this summer,” Godfrey said this week. “It would be reasonable to say, we should have it in place by May of next year.”
For others involved with the project, the tourism board has dropped the ball, regardless of its projected release date.
“I’m not out on a witch hunt, but I think a lot of people got screwed on this,” said Coston. “I could be like, ‘Screw it, I got my money.’ But it’s more than that. It was supposed to be good for the community. It was more than making money. It was a contribution.”
Its contribution was to highlight and promote the many attractions of Sublette County.
As the coordinator for the Sublette Community Partnership, Laurie Latta was among those recently invited by the mayor of Meeker, Colorado, to discuss energy impacts, since Meeker is on the verge of experiencing a similar energy boom as that of Sublette County.
“One of the parts of that program was a public meeting to visit with the community,” said Latta. “And I thought it would be really nice to have something to show them.”
Latta contacted Crabb at the tourism board and was told that some photographs were available. Instead, Latta picked up some books from the Chamber of Commerce, along with some pictures of area development projects. And she was frustrated that the tourism board could not provide her promotional materials that she could use to showcase the area.
“For as many years as the lodging tax has been in effect, I was just so surprised and frankly disappointed we didn’t have materials to take to other counties,” Latta said. “It would have been nice to have the DVD from this year.”
Despite spending $35,000 on a promotional video that has yet to be seen, the tourism board has more video projects slated, including the winter edition, which was projected to cost an additional $20,000.
“(The summer video) is but one of many DVDs, the most recent being a public television series on wildlife, in which Sublette County had its own section,” said Godfrey. “So we’re building a video library. And we’ll be showing it when the dust settles and we have total agreement on interior usage (of the Visitor Center). We’re looking at a winter (video), so that would be added to the list.”
Having been awarded a $230,000 grant from the federal Scenic Byway Program, the tourism board is now waiting to see how that money will affect the “interpretive site” within the Visitor Center, which will determine where and how the videos will be viewed.
For Coston, the confusion surrounding the video project goes to the heart of the larger problem.
“These people, who are supposed to be using our tax dollars, are blowing it,” he concluded. “And I think a lot of people would be pissed off if they knew.”
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