WTOC Exclusive: Film office director's dismissal letter - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Memo details film office director's dismissal

Jay Self Jay Self

Did the city of Savannah make misleading statements about the Savannah Film Office situation? WTOC has exclusively obtained a copy of Savannah Film Office Director Jay Self's dismissal letter.

Despite claims the issues surrounding the suspension were not recent, or related to "Spongebob Squarepants 2" filming in Savannah and local businesses according to his direct supervisor Joe Shearouse, the city of Savannah's letter blames Self's suspension and possible termination on how he handled the Spongebob Squarepants movie that's about to film downtown. 

Last week, Shearouse told the Savannah Film Commission that Self's suspension was not about handling of businesses and pre-production involving the film. 

"I don't understand how the failure between the Savannah business community and Paramount about this reimbursement thing is Jay's (fault)," Murray Silver, Savannah Film Commission member, said to Shearouse.

"Nobody is saying that. You are inferring. You all are inferring things. As of Monday things were going well. Things were going well with businesses. I'm not saying 100 percent. I have not heard from business since Monday," Shearouse said.

However, that is exactly what the letter states, which is dated Monday Sept. 23. It cites unsatisfactory performance directly related to Self's failure to properly plan and manage the arrangement for the movie "Spongebob 2 the Movie" and claims Self had been told in August his job was in jeopardy at an August job performance review and the city manager lacked confidence in his abilities. 

It goes on to say since production teams for Spongebob arrived, the city manager's office and mayor's office had received several  complaints from local businesses, the Savannah Economic Development Authority,  officials with the state of Georgia and the local Chamber of Commerce with negative comments about Self's role in coordinating the arrangements for the movie, which Shearouse was directly asked about Wednesday.

"There are certain rumors there was pressure from the chamber, pressure from the state film office, pressure from others that caused some of this," a commission member asked.

"I wouldn't say pressure is the word - no pressure. The decision was mine and I don't let them influence me with their opinion or pressure," Shearouse said.

At the time, Shearouse told WTOC Self's suspension did not have to do with the Spongebob or downtown businesses, but this letter contradicts those statements.

Self is appealing the suspension prior to dismissal  which will be reviewed by City Manager Stephanie Cutter on Monday. 

WTOC was also told Paramount Pictures will be holding a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday for "Spongebob Squarepants 2" at a location to be determined.

View the memo here: page 1 and page 2.

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