Digital Cinema Production
Oklahoma incentives lure TV & film productions out of Hollywood and to the prairie
OCCC’s Artist-in-Residence Gray Frederickson left our world for his “next great adventure” as he put it, early in the morning of November 20, 2022.
Gray Frederickson began his career by producing a film when he didn’t know a thing about making movies. He just figured things out along the way. He was fearless. That give birth to a career producing some of America’s great films, including all three Godfather films, Apocalypse Now and The Outsiders.
Gray helped create Oklahoma’s first film commission – brought the governor and other officials out to California, introduced them around to underscore the importance of a commission.
When Gray came back to Oklahoma to raise his family, he went door-to-door with legislators helping the film commission that now existed, create Oklahoma’s first film rebate.
Gray went around to every 4-year college pitching a film production program and got turned down by all of them. His Oscar and movies made no difference. “Who need’s production courses?” they told him. “We have film studies programs.”
A community college, OCCC, created to fill gaps in access to higher education in South Oklahoma City – was the only college to say yes. It was here at OCCC that Gray created from scratch the first film program in all of Oklahoma that was dedicated to producing graduates who were filmmakers with command of movie equipment and technology.
This allowed films to come into the state and crew up locally from his students and graduates and allowed the film industry to blossom into the production center it is today. The first studio television series in our history, Tulsa King, shot season one at Prairie Surf Studios here in OKC. Prairie Surf’s Co-CEOs are Rachel Cannon and Matt Payne, both former of interns of Gray.
Gray also got into documentaries. His first one won him an Emmy. His others helped transform Oklahoma’s prison system and spread awareness of the heartbreaking issues children of the incarcerated face. Others advanced the cause of animal welfare across the state.
His documentaries brought in over $540,000 of grant funds to OCCC to help build excellence in technology and familiarize students with the various workflows needed to help them advance in the professional world.
Gray hosted Francis Ford Coppola at OCCC for a Live Cinema Workshop, whose final project was streamed from coast to coast and as far away as Paris, France. Every student who worked on this received an iMDB credit on a Francis Ford Coppola production which helped them get jobs all across this country, as well as here in Oklahoma.
MovieMaker Magazine has named Gray’s Digital Cinema Program at OCCC as one of the top 40 film schools in America and Canada. Gray turned Oklahoma into a Land of Opportunity for filmmakers and was recognized for this by his induction into Oklahoma’s Hall of Fame.
As one speaker as his funeral services put it, Gray was “roots and wings.”
He gave the film industry roots here as never before and then filmmakers just took the opportunities he helped give them and that became the wind beneath their wings in whatever form that took — features, documentaries, television, commercials.
The service ended with 3 Scottish bagpipe players echoing “Highland Cathedral” off the walls of a packed church and packed with many young folks, our next generation of filmmakers.
Gray was the Johnny Appleseed of film in Oklahoma and we are all part of his extended family.
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