Eric Preiss is on a mission to grow the film tourism industry in the state as director of the Nevada Film Office.
“I’m fortunate to do what get I do,” said Preiss, a native of Las Vegas. “This is a city and a state that I love and the fact that I get to promote it to the world, it’s pretty great.”
Preiss assumed the director position two years ago and is working to market to a changing industry.
“It’s not just going to the movies now,” Preiss said. “It’s the business of content creation. It’s YouTube videos getting 19 million views. People are viewing television through their mobile devices. Anything that creates content, we would like to be a part of that.”
Preiss built his understanding of the Nevada business climate working as a CPA for 15 years. After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from UNLV, his professional career began at accounting firm Arthur Andersen where he became a senior auditor. He also has held several management positions with gaming companies including Caesars Entertainment and Sands Corp.
Q. How did you go from working as a CPA to becoming the director of the Nevada Film Office?
A. I never in a million years thought I would be working in the film industry. I figured I would be a casino executive. I was happy with that career path, but things changed and here I am.
When I think of what I do at the Nevada Film Office, I think of it as show business. And it’s exactly that, business. I’ve spent my entire career in Nevada working with major corporations, small businesses and individual companies in industries as diverse as gold mining to casino gaming. In my experience, they are not all that different. It doesn’t matter what business you are in, business stays the same. It’s the jargon that changes.
Q. What work does the Nevada Film Office do?
A. We try to diversify Nevada’s economy through the film industry. We market the state of Nevada to content creators, films, TV shows, commercials, music videos, documentaries, photo shoots, and all other media projects including mobile and video gaming. We would like to see them create that content in Nevada
Once they’re here, we help them find the resources they require within Nevada to complete their projects on time and on budget. Talented crews, quality vendors, great locations, and helping them navigate the various processes to get their productions complete. Once the project is done, we promote it to induce additional tourism.
Q. What are you working to accomplish as director and what has been your greatest accomplishment?
A. The director sets the strategic mission for the organization. We have three main objectives, and my goal is to make sure we are accomplishing those objectives:
1) I’m hoping to attract more video gaming development to the state. Video games are very cinematic today with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. For example, one game like Grand Theft Auto V costs approximately $265 million to develop and market and has made over $2.4 billion. Exposure in this industry exposes Nevada and cities like Reno and Las Vegas to an entirely new market of gamers who are the next generation of visitors to our state and capturing a greater portion of the millennial market.
2) For the Nevada Film Office to work more closely with the tourism agencies in Nevada, such as Travel Nevada, the RVCVA and LVCVA. I believe film, TV and gaming drive tourist behavior.
3) I would like to see all of our agencies working together on comprehensive strategies to drive tourism while creating opportunities for those who work and live in Nevada in all the industries that support content creators and the resulting visitation from the exposure they generate.
I feel very fortunate to work for the Nevada Film Office and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development under Executive Director Steve Hill and Director of Business Development Brad Mamer. Our agency works very hard to create more opportunities for individuals and businesses in Nevada to prosper, grow and succeed.
My greatest accomplishment so far is building a strong team of talented individuals who at any moment could replace me.
Q. I understand the Nevada Film Office offers a tax incentive to produce content in Nevada. What is the Nevada Tax Incentive and how does that benefit the state?
A The State of Nevada enacted legislation to create a Transferrable Tax Credit for Film and Other Productions in 2014. The Film Office administers the program. The program is designed to increase the number of productions creating content in Nevada by offering a financial incentive to do so. Several productions have taken advantage of the program, resulting in additional jobs and money spent within the industry in Nevada. One film that took advantage of the program, Frank and Lola, is premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this month.
Q. What factor does the Nevada Film Tax Incentive play in recruiting?
A. The Nevada Film Tax Incentive is only one of many tools we use to attractive film makers and content creators to Nevada. A strong business-friendly climate, talented experienced industry crew members, quality vendors, and of course, “one of a kind” locations you can’t find anywhere else or build on a sound stage.
Q. How do you define success?
A. Creating opportunities for others, helping those around me to succeed, and in doing so, hopefully creating an organization that is better off than when I started.
Q. How successful have you been in promoting the state as a film destination? What has been the largest project you’ve secured?
A. Our goal is to make Nevada a premiere film destination internationally. Statistically we work with 400-plus productions a year that come here to film in one way or another.
We basically sell the state of Nevada and we do that through film and television. We go to trade shows throughout the country, host events and attend film festivals. We do a lot of relationship marketing as well as social media marketing. We advertise in trade journals.
Our business is challenging to measure success on a year to year basis. It’s very unpredictable. A lot of what we do is plant seeds, create an interest in Nevada, and then water those seeds over time and see the results.
As we speak, there are films being completed in Nevada. We don’t discuss projects currently filming to respect the production’s needs so they can get the jobs done on time and without undue attention.