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Film chief to leave for Alabama

Buffalo Niagara Film Commissioner Mark L. Stricklin is leaving Western New York for a similar post in Birmingham, Ala.

Stricklin, who was hired to start the local film office in mid-2002, served as the State of Alabama's film chief from 1986 to 1992 before moving on to media development jobs in North Carolina, Oregon and Buffalo.

"They called me about a month ago and asked me if I wanted to start a film commission in Birmingham," Stricklin said. "At first, I wasn't super-interested, but it gives me a chance to get back to a place I really love, and I have family there."

Stricklin, who has kept the one-man Erie County film office afloat through a series of funding crises, said that despite the fiscal ups and downs, he is proud of what he accomplished and is willing to lend a hand from afar.

"After you build something from nothing over 3 1/2 years, you don't want to see it go down the tubes," he said. "It's not my style to just walk away. I'm a phone call away if they need my help."

Since its inception, the local film office is credited with attracting more than 100 movie, television and commercial projects to Erie County, resulting in about $7 million in local economic benefits. By contrast, the county's investment has totaled barely $500,000.

The commission's resume includes the big-screen hit "Bruce Almighty," which starred Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston in a story that featured Buffalo as its backdrop. MTV's "Fraternity Life" and "Sorority Life" series also were shot here.

More recently, "Poultrygeist," a horror-musical, wrapped up its filming on Buffalo's East Side, and a half-dozen other film and commercial projects are pending.

Stricklin was introduced as the executive director of the new Jefferson-Birmingham Film Office on Wednesday in Alabama.

Buffalo Niagara Enterprise is expected to take on Stricklin's duties until a decision is made on his successor.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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