Joe Glass (1942–)

Joe Glass was instrumental in the development of the motion picture industry in Arkansas. He produced independent movies and was appointed the first director of the state’s Office of Motion Picture Development. In that capacity, he was effective in bringing to Arkansas the filming of major movies and television series with the accompanying economic benefits.

Joseph Frederick (Joe) Glass Jr. was born at Fort Benning, Georgia, on September 14, 1942, to Joseph Glass Sr. and Grace Jordan Glass; he had a sister, Susan. He attended schools in various cities as his father was transferred in his career with the Army Medical Corps and as a Veterans Administration hospital administrator. Glass graduated from high school in Huntington, West Virginia, in 1960. After one year at the U.S. Naval Academy, he attended San Francisco State College and graduated in 1966 with a degree in radio, television, and film. He was in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in college and served as a U.S. Air Force officer after graduation.

He married Brenda Tucker in 1967, and they had one son. His second marriage was to Tammy Lea Richardson in 1984, and they had three sons.

After military service, Glass was employed by IBM in various cities, including a period in Little Rock (Pulaski County). After moving to Caelus Memories, Inc., a computer equipment company, for assignments in Memphis, Tennessee, and Los Angeles, California, he resigned and returned to Little Rock to explore the motion picture business.

In Little Rock, he joined Harry Thomason’s company, Southwest Cinematography, in 1970. They later changed the name to Centronics International and produced two movies filmed in Arkansas. In 1971, they produced Encounter with the Unknown, with Glass as producer and Thomason as director; through a contact of Glass’s, they secured the famous Rod Serling as narrator of the film. In 1972, they produced the movie So Sad about Gloria.

In 1979, Glass was appointed the first director of the Office of Motion Picture Development under the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). His mission was to promote the filming of movies and television shows at sites within the state. Among the productions he attracted early on was the 1981 CBS made-for-television movie Crisis at Central High. Glass convinced the director to film the movie on-site at the high school rather than in Hollywood. Glass also initiated and—aided by his future wife Tammy—developed the concept of an incentive for filming in Arkansas. He attracted the interest of a state legislator and was active in successful lobbying for and passage of the Arkansas Motion Picture Incentive Act of 1983. This provided a five-percent rebate or tax credit for money spent in the state in film production. Other states soon followed suit.

At a convention in San Jose, California, Glass heard a movie producer announce that he was looking for a movie site on a military base. Glass told him that Arkansas had three bases available and explained the new law. Consequently, the movie A Soldier’s Story was shot at Fort Chaffee. Several other movies were filmed in the state due to Glass’s efforts, such as Biloxi Blues and Tuskegee Airmen, in addition to the NBC television miniseries North and South and the ABC miniseries The Blue and the Gray. It was estimated that in the weeks spent filming The Blue and the Gray in Arkansas, the economic benefit to the region was as much as $17 million.

From 1982 through 1985, Glass served on the board of directors of the Film Commissioners Association, a national organization of state directors of motion picture development.

In 1985, Governor Bill Clinton replaced him. On the recommendation of the then director of AEDC, he was reappointed by Governor Mike Huckabee in 1998. From 1985 until 1998, while he was not at AEDC, Glass worked in various positions and did consulting for entertainment projects locally and nationally. Among these activities was serving as production assistant in filming the movie Sling Blade. For five years, he served as general manager for radio station KPAL, based in Little Rock, which was programed for children twelve and under, and which won the George Foster Peabody Award. He assisted Harry Thomason in filming various television series, including Designing Women and also Evening Shade, for which every exterior scene was filmed in Arkansas.

Back at work for the state under Huckabee, Glass secured the filming of the Fox television series The Simple Life in Altus (Franklin County). Cranford Johnson, an advertising and public relations firm, retained an independent consultant who estimated the project’s benefit to be the equivalent of $50 million in terms of information about and positive images of the state, including its wine country.

In an effort to promote the industry and assist high school and college students enrolled in film courses, Glass initiated an educational program in 2000. Dov Simens of the Hollywood Film Institute was well known for conducting two-day movie-making schools for students and film enthusiasts throughout the country. The tuition was $495 per person, which few in Arkansas would be willing to pay. Glass had Simens agree to hold a school in Arkansas for a total fixed fee of $10,000. He then had AEDC approve the project and provide the $10,000 so anyone could attend free of charge. The Hot Springs Convention Center provided facilities for the “Cineposium,” which attracted 1,200 students and film enthusiasts. The event was held annually for five years.

Glass was active in maintaining contacts with local officials and chambers of commerce to help in attracting motion picture filming, and he helped set up thirty-seven local community film commissioner organizations in the state.

Glass retired from the AEDC in 2007.

For additional information:
“Bill Proposes Movie Rebates.” Arkansas Gazette, February 2, 1983, p. 3A.

“LR Firm Is Hoping for Best; Film Premiere Is Set Tuesday.” Arkansas Gazette, October 15, 1972, p. 5A.

W. W. Satterfield
Little Rock, Arkansas


No comments on this entry yet.