In tiny Mono, Ontario, Canada there’s a non-descript motel called The Hockley. It may not look like much, but its role in the hit television show Schitt’s Creek put the town of 8,600 on the map. Leagues of visitors descend on the area every year to capture a little TV magic for themselves.
Nancy Clark-Mather hopes to bring that same notoriety and magic to Beloit through her new business, Beloit FilmWorks. The business is a “film-friendly” location scouting service that is working to bring directors, documentarians, and producers to the area to use the varied Beloit landscape for their projects.
Following her retirement, Clark-Mather became interested in writing screenplays and learning how to distribute her work and get it into the right hands.
“I’m a new-fangled filmmaker. These are my passion years,” she said.
This enthusiasm for the film world led Clark-Mather to become involved in the Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF), joining the board in 2019.
The involvement in BIFF put her in front of producers and directors, including some that encouraged her to put some thought into the idea of offering Beloit to the world stage.
Taking the encouragement of her film peers to heart, Beloit FilmWorks was born. The business was named with a bit of a nod to Beloit Ironworks, tying in the historical and blue- collar spirit of the area. Clark-Mather hopes to inject a bit of beatnik/mid-century feel into the branding, an ethos of Old Hollywood meets new ideas and creative projects.
“I am taking all of my love for the arts, filmmaking and filmmakers, and for this uniquely beautiful community of Beloit and putting it into a service that will support any film or commercial looking to film in a convenient, affordable, and multi-faceted area,” Clark-Mather explains.
The burgeoning business has already made some strides through Clark-Mather’s Beloit advocacy. She believes Beloit’s myriad of options, from urban downtown areas, historic districts, and rural farmlands offer filmmakers a bevy of opportunities away from the traffic and dense populations of larger cities.
Amid the pandemic shutdown, Clark-Mather has dedicated herself to building a location database, a collection of Beloit, Janesville, and Rockford area locations ready for film crews. She has hit the ground running with physical scouting trips covering a thirty-mile radius, building the database’s photo directory. The directory runs the gamut from offices, restaurants, natural space, and industrial buildings and is expanding rapidly. Working together with organizations such as
Visit Beloit and the Beloit downtown business property owners, Clark-Mather is hopeful that the idea of Beloit as a filming destination will gain traction and create many production-ready spots.
Turning Beloit into the next Mono, Ontario could be financially beneficial not only during filming but in post-production as well. Bringing filmmakers to the area could lead to jobs and an uptick in spending at local businesses as production is happening.
Beloit Film Works’ website will include a vendor directory, gathering catering, lodging, clothing, and crew options for filmmakers. But much like the Schitt’s Creek Motel, films set at recognizable Beloit landmarks will drive tourism.
Along with building out her business website, Clark-Mather has immersed herself in film-centered projects, including her involvement in the production of a documentary about mental health and resiliency aboard a Navy fleet.
With passion fueling her grassroots efforts to build her business, Clark-Mather has innumerable dreams for Beloit FilmWorks.
“I want Beloit to be in a national car commercial,” she says.
She has visions of a Mazda Miata backlit by the glittering spine of lights on Irontek Drive.
The Miata vision isn’t the only clear picture Clark-Mather has for Beloit’s film location future.
Her excitement for the Beloit FilmWorks business is palpable and Beloit will be well served by that excitement seeping into the creative vision of filmmakers from across the country.
Her rallying cry about Beloit FilmWorks to producers and directors these days is simple yet illustrates the business’ mission perfectly: “If it exists, we’ll find it and if it doesn’t, we’ll create it”.
Beloit FilmWorks can be found in the quarterly Location Managers Guild International magazine COMPASS listings and online at www.BeloitFilmWorks.com