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  • Writer's pictureOKC Film & Creative Industries Office

The Oklahoma Film & Music Office (OF+MO) and Universal Filmed Entertainment Group wrapped up a new traineeship program on Oklahoma’s latest film set, "Twisters."

The Oklahoma Film & Music Office (OF+MO) and Universal Filmed Entertainment Group wrapped up a new traineeship program on Oklahoma’s latest film set, "Twisters." This initiative, in collaboration with Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, was announced during the production of the new summer event movie, "Twisters," from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment.


In line with Universal's commitment to inclusivity and fostering talent across production areas, "Twisters" announced a distinctive traineeship program—'Universal Below-The-Line.’ This initiative aimed to provide newcomers, including those from underrepresented backgrounds, with firsthand experience and mentorship opportunities on set.


Through collaboration with OF+MO, the program offers a structured pathway encompassing departments such as VFX, production accounting, sustainability, art, construction, costume and production offices, in partnership with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 484, dedicated to trade unionism.


"Workforce training initiatives such as the Universal Below-The-Line Traineeship provide a unique opportunity to grow a well-trained workforce to support our local industry," highlighted Jill Simpson, executive director of the newly established Oklahoma City Film & Creative Industries Office (OKCFCIO). ‘Twisters’ received support from OKCFCIO, in addition to leveraging the state's incentives and certified soundstage infrastructure.”


The Universal Below-The-Line Traineeship, highlighted by Jeff La Plante, Universal's president of physical production, is designed to nurture new talent across vital production roles. La Plante emphasized the program's significance, stating, "As the demand for experienced crew continues to grow, Universal’s Below-The-Line Traineeship opens doors for a new generation of talent. We support them as they build lasting professional relationships required to achieve real career momentum."

Directed by Oscar nominee Lee Isaac Chung ("Minari") and starring Golden Globe nominee Daisy Edgar-Jones ("Where the Crawdads Sing") and Glen Powell ("Top Gun: Maverick"), "Twisters" is a modern-day continuation of the 1996 blockbuster. Scheduled for release on July 19, the film promises to deliver big-screen thrills, immersing audiences with awe-inspiring yet destructive forces of nature.

Supported by state film incentives, principal photography for "Twisters" commenced in Oklahoma City on May 8, 2023, initiating a 60-day engagement with several communities statewide, including El Reno, Chickasha, Midwest City, Spencer, Kingfisher, Calumet, Hinton, Fairview, Okarche, Kremlin, Burbank and Pawhuska. This extensive production footprint brings Oklahoma's appeal as a versatile filming destination, reinforced by the state's robust incentive program Filmed in Oklahoma Act and the Oklahoma City film incentive program.

The state program offers a base incentive of 20% to projects that film principal photography within its borders. By adhering to the guidelines, "Twisters" tapped into additional uplift opportunities provided by the legislation. This approach enabled the project to potentially receive rebates ranging from 20% to 38%, contingent upon factors such as filming location and project type, thereby maximizing its financial benefits while significantly contributing to Oklahoma's economy.

Moreover, the Oklahoma City Film Incentive Program also includes a 5% rebate for qualified projects with a minimum total expenditure of $500,000 for feature films and $100,000 for television projects, provided more than 50% of filming days occur within the city limits.

Hopper Smith, executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, commended the collaboration between OF+MO, the local industry, private sector and communities, affirming, "OFMO has done excellent work in positioning the state as a competitive destination for film and television production in the U.S., as evidenced by studios like Universal bringing their business to us.”

Producer Frank Marshall shared his enthusiasm for returning to Oklahoma for the filming of "Twisters," citing the state's pivotal role in the film industry. "After the incredible experience we had filming 'Twisters' in 1995, the decision to make Oklahoma home to 'Twisters' was an easy choice," Marshall stated.

The original "Twisters" movie became the second highest-grossing film of the year, earning nearly $500 million worldwide during its theatrical run.

Initiatives like the traineeship program, alongside the Filmed in Oklahoma Act, exemplify Oklahoma's dedication to cultivating a robust ecosystem that supports both local talent and major productions. "‘Twisters’ is uniquely tied to our history. The collaboration is unique and is one of the primary reasons so many studios are choosing OKC. We are committed to continuing this work and growing this sector of our economy,” remarked Mayor David Holt.


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