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First of May Title on White

News and Publicity

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A Press Release from Florida Governor JEB BUSH
August 2005


TALLAHASSEE – Governor Jeb Bush today appointed Paul Sirmons, of Orlando, to serve as Florida’s Film Commissioner, effective August 15.

"I am thrilled that Paul has agreed to join the team and serve as Florida’s film commissioner," said Governor Bush. "His 25 years of experience and outstanding reputation in the film and entertainment industry make him an excellent choice for this position. Paul is committed to attracting new businesses and expanding existing ones, with a focus on increasing production related opportunities in the motion picture industry. Florida has much to offer the highly competitive film and entertainment industry."

As film commissioner, Sirmons is responsible for directing the strategy and activities of the Office of Film & Entertainment in the areas of business development, marketing and promotion, operations in field offices, and facilitation of relationships between state and local governments, local film commissioners and members of the entertainment industry.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to strengthen Florida’s standing in the world marketplace of film, video and digital entertainment," said Sirmons. "Florida has unique and rapidly growing markets in gaming, digital media and Spanish language production. We have the best crews, casts, service companies, equipment providers, stages, labs, post houses and local film commissions in the country. I look forwarding to serving Governor Bush and all Floridians by working to attract film and video production to the state."

Sirmons is a Florida-born independent filmmaker with 25 years of production experience working on television series, feature films, made-for-TV movies, pilots and independent films. Sirmons directed the award winning, Florida-made feature The First of May, a 35mm film that has been shown on HBO and Cinemax. He has also produced three independent 35mm feature films, each shot in Central Florida. Sirmon’s latest work, The Way Back Home, is a spiritual drama starring Michael Houston King, Julie Harris and Ruby Dee.

Before becoming an independent filmmaker, Sirmons worked as an assistant director in California, Florida and locations around the world. His projects include critically acclaimed dramatic television series as Quantum Leap, SeaQuest, Falcon Crest, The Waltons and Our House as well as numerous Florida-based dramatic series, including The Cape, Key West and the Miami-based Sins of the City. He also worked behind the scenes for the first television show at both major production studios in Orlando: Disney MGM (Superboy) and Universal Studios Florida (The New Leave It To Beaver).

Sirmons has been a working member in the Directors Guild of America for 25 years and serves on the advisory board for the University of Florida’s College of Telecommunications and Valencia Community College’s Film Production Technology Program.

"I couldn't be more excited to have Paul Sirmons as our next State of Florida Film Commissioner," said Paul Meena, vice president and general manager of the Universal Studio's Florida Production Group, and current Chairman of the Governor's Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council. "Paul's extensive background as a producer in both feature films and television, as well as his experience as an ingenious filmmaker makes him an ideal choice for this position. His relentless passion for the Florida production industry is clear and our Governor could not have made a better choice."

The Office of Film & Entertainment develops, markets, promotes, and provides services to the state’s entertainment industry. To learn more about film production in Florida, please go to www.filminflorida.com or call toll-free (877) 352-3456.

DiMaggio - Setting the Record Straight
A Biography by Morris Engelberg & Marv Schneider
  Recently published, this memorial of Joe DiMaggio's life by his attorney / friend Morris Engelberg encapsulates all the events of the late Yankee Clipper's dramatic life, which includes a section on The First of May (pp. 316-317). "The first time Joe saw the film," Engelberg writes, "he critiqued himself by saying, 'You know, I wasn't that bad.'" Includes a Foreward by Dr. Henry A. Kissinger. Click here to get the book at Amazon.com!

A Letter from Florida Governor JEB BUSH
June 2002


TALLAHASSEE - Governor Jeb Bush today congratulated producer and director, Paul Sirmons, on the HBO debut of The First of May, a feature film produced entirely in Central Florida. With a nationwide debut set for July 1st, the film is based on the teen novel "Golden Days" by Stetson University professor Gail Radley and was produced and adapted for the screen by writer Gary Rogers of Deland. The film features locations in Lake Helen, DeLand, Volusia and Orange counties, and was housed at Pyramax Studios in Deland.

"The First of May underscores the extraordinary level of filmmaking talent and expertise found in Florida," said Governor Bush. "I congratulate Paul and his team for a job well done and encourage Floridians to tune in to HBO next week to see this wonderful family film."

The movie was likewise mentioned in the official Florida Governor's Newsletter on Friday, June 28, 2002 (Vol. 4, Issue 23). (Free Acrobat Reader or Acrobat plug-in required to read this PDF file.)

Mickey Rooney
  On March 22, 2001 Mickey Rooney was honored a Lifetime Achievement Award from the prestigious Film Advisory Board at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. They showed Rooney's clip in the hospital from The First of May at this event. We congratulate Mr. Rooney for being recognized for a lifetime of outstanding film accomplishments, and thank him for making The First of May a part of his distinguished career.

Domestic Distribution
  Domestic Distribution was secured in early 2001, and the initial print was held over at the Beacon 12 Theater in New Smyrna, FL, on Highway 1 just one mile south of Hwy 44. Was TOP GROSSING MOVIE at that theater in it's 1st week of release, beating all the Hollywood releases that week with only 2 shows per day on a 12 screen theater! Was upgraded to 4 shows a day thereafter. ... See News-Journal Online where it got a 5 STAR REVIEW (same rating as the Academy Award nominated Chocolat).

Joe DiMaggio
  The First of May is the last major assignment of Joe DiMaggio's career. The great Yankee Clipper passed away late in the night of Sunday 3/7/99. On Monday, 3/8/99, Entertainment Tonight discussed The First of May using footage from their cover story about the movie that aired on 2/26/98 (see below). A clip from Joe D's scene in The First of May was also included in CNN's tribute to Joe DiMaggio on the evening of 3/8/99, and had a Real Player video clip on ABCNews.com.

The cast and crew of The First of May
offer condolences to the friends and family
of Joe DiMaggio.

May he rest in peace.
March 7, 1999

Dove Award
The Dove Foundation
  The First of May has already received the Dove Foundation's Seal of Approval, given only to films of the highest calibre that exhibit positive values. The late entertainer and Dove advisor, Steve Allen, called the Dove Seal, "the Good Housekeeping Seal for Family Entertainment." Steve Allen also presented director Paul Sirmons with the Best Film Awards - Feature Drama at the Burbank International Children's Film Festival in October, 2000.

MSNBC Publicity
  On Dec. 11, 1998, The First of May was written up at MSNBC and twice since then!

Entertainment Tonight's Cover Story!
  On Feb. 26, 1998, The First of May was Entertainment Tonight's covery story! Due to the rain, change of ball parks at the last minute, and other schedule changes, E.T. didn't arrive at the set long enough to get all the interviews they wanted, but they made due.