By Andy Ross
Killeen Daily Herald

The sight of film crews in action — not to mention the economic benefits that follow — could soon become a frequent reality in Killeen.

After multiple years of planning, Killeen’s effort to apply for “Film Friendly Community” certification is now entering the final stages.

The certification status, bestowed by the Texas Film Commission, is awarded after a city completes a process that includes extensive photo documentation, training and the approval of guidelines that spell out the expected cooperation of local officials.

Connie Kuehl, director of the Killeen Civic and Conference Center and Convention and Visitors Bureau, said this week that the city’s application process lacks only approval of the guidelines by the council.

If the certification is finalized, she said, the impact could be substantial.

“It’s really amazing the amount of money (film crews) spend,” Kuehl said. “It’s hotel rooms for actors, catering, fencing, equipment, tents — things like that.”

Kuehl said a number of commercials and smaller productions recently have been filmed in Killeen and Fort Hood. A music video was scheduled for the downtown area, but it had to be canceled when the main star reportedly encountered legal trouble.

During a council workshop Tuesday, Kuehl provided an update of the recent filming and application process and received a warm response from Mayor Tim Hancock.

“It just goes to show there are a lot of positive things going on in this community,” Hancock said.

Kuehl said the photo documentation is meant to capture landscapes, structures and particular city features that would likely pique the interest of production teams.

In Killeen, some of the locations recommended by photographers from the Texas Film Commission included Leo Buckley Stadium, Belton and Stillhouse lakes, local softball fields and downtown buildings. Surprisingly, said Kuehl, a number of the city’s rundown motels were one of the biggest draws for photographers.

Kuehl, who before coming to Killeen worked for the city of Temple, said she has seen firsthand the benefits of movie production in a small town.

In 1993, for example, Temple served as the location for scenes in “Flesh and Bone,” a drama starring Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan.

If Killeen earns Film Friendly Community certification, it would join Lampasas, Temple and more than 50 cities across the state with the designation.