Swingle lands role thanks to film work

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

During the filming of "Killshot" in Cape Girardeau in January, there was one fixture on the set besides the film's crew and stars -- Morley Swingle.

The Cape Girardeau County prosecuting attorney took time out of his schedule to go behind the scenes of the film based on a novel by Elmore Leonard. He talked to director John Madden, producers, met castmembers Diane Lane and Thomas Jane and had an open ear for the film crews.

Now that work -- actually more of a vacation for Swingle -- has landed the prosecutor a spot on the Missouri Film Commission advisory board.

The appointment came as a surprise, Swingle said.

"It was my first time on a movie set, and my appointment to this board came out of the blue to me," he said. "It was not something I applied for. I didn't even know that private citizens sit on the Missouri Film Commission."

The commission works under the state Department of Economic Development to bring filmmakers to the state. Members of the nine-member board are appointed by DED director Greg Steinhoff.

Swingle found out about his appointment last month. On Thursday he'll attend his first commission meeting in Springfield. Swingle will serve on the board for three years.

"I don't want to be in charge of snowball fights in Florida," Swingle said. "I want to see what kind of real incentives we can offer to bring filmmakers to Missouri."

Film commission director Jerry Jones recommended Swingle for the seat.

"We had a good experience with him down in Cape Girardeau," said Jones. "You can tell he knows the industry and has some interest in filmmaking."

Jones said another positive factor that helped lock Swingle in was that he is from a rural area of the state, instead of St. Louis or Kansas City. The board is dominated by members from those areas.

Rural areas of the state could be even more attractive than urban areas, Swingle said.

"If they want to film a city, they can always go to Los Angeles or New York," he said.

When author Elmore Leonard wrote "Killshot" -- the book the film was later based on -- Swingle helped as a consultant. Leonard based some of the book's events in Cape Girardeau, and filmmakers followed suit bringing the cast and crew to film here in January. His assistance to Leonard gained Swingle an inside track to the shooting, and that's where he learned about the work that goes into producing a feature film.

"I got a chance to talk not only with the director and producer, but also with people who make their living bringing in the lighting and building the various sets, and they explained how tax breaks from the state are a huge thing when companies are deciding whether to shoot at a particular place," Swingle said.


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