Upper Midwest Film Office Aims to Advance Local Economic Recovery

[Duluth, MN]:  JANUARY, 2021. The mission of the Upper Midwest Film Office (UMFO) is to advance the region as a leader in the creative economy by empowering storytelling artists to launch and sustain successful careers, businesses and communities.

“We are excited to be part of the economic growth of our region.” says Chief Production Officer Riki McManus. “As we emerge from COVID we see film/tv/media production as one of the fastest ways to bring new jobs and money to the region.” 

Riki McManus Chief Production Officer

In March 1996, the Upper Minnesota Film Office was established to promote Northeastern Minnesota as a location for contract filming of feature films, episodics, documentaries, commercials, social media & digital content and related video media and print productions. In 2021 the office has expanded to serve the influx of demand.  UMFO’s services include:

  • Connecting production teams to local cast & crew via its database
  • Connecting production teams to locations, vendors and local businesses
  • Creating innovative pathways to develop and expand the local workforce by working with local education and training institutions as well as industry professionals
  • Connecting productions with funding support such as the administration of the St. Louis County film incentive
  • Promoting and advancing the region as an emerging creative industry hub

Production companies around the globe are looking at new opportunities and locations as they grapple with new protocol skyrocketing costs and increased demand.  McManus pointed out that the industry is looking directly at us, “When the Catalyst Story Institute decided to move their international TV festival to Duluth in 2019, dozens of industry executives and producers were understandably impressed with the area.  We offer an international airport, impressive land and seascapes, a diverse workforce, rich industry experience, a vast hospitality industry and a robust arts community infrastructure.   As they continue to look for places to produce their work, we want to be able to fully support them.”

The office has been integral in bringing productions to the region including big-name projects like NORTH COUNTRY, IRON WILL, and THE GOOD SON as well as numerous smaller budget projects that fuel local economies by way of jobs, business opportunities, and commerce. UMFO thanks its partners Northspan, St Louis County, Visit Duluth, IRRRB, MN Power, and Catalyst for all their contributions over the years.