- Friday, Mar. 20, 2009
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- SANTA MONICA, Calif.
Despite or in some respects because of a battered economy, the 24th annual Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) Locations Trade Show--which will run from April 16-18 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium--is more than holding its own. Booth space is sold out, meaning that some 260-plus exhibitors--film commissions and support services companies--will be showcasing their wares. Furthermore, there's a larger number of additional companies on the waiting list to be Locations Trade Show exhibitors as compared to 2008.
Some 30-plus nations will be represented among those exhibitors. And there are several first-time film commission exhibitors, such as Bavaria, Serbia and Namibia.
AFCI CEO Bill Lindstrom noted that an increasing number of countries, regions and municipalities are seeing the prudence of having a professional film commission given the significant revenue filmmaking can generate for the economy.
At the same time, many film commissions are feeling the fiscal squeeze. Consider production incentives programs that could have funding decreased or eliminated due to budget shortfalls in such states as New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Yet the silver lining is that the economic crisis has governments seriously looking for ways to stimulate revenue. Thus California, which has a massive budget deficit, nonetheless recently passed an incentives program for select feature films and TV programs, though commercials are excluded (see separate news story).
Another sign of the times is that in past recessions, the very existence of film commissions was threatened, with some closing altogether and others fighting to stave off elimination. That's not the case this time around. Yes, travel and marketing budgets will likely face cutbacks in funding but governments on local, state and national levels now readily recognize that having a strong film commission in place can contribute substantively to economic recovery.
Pre-registration for the Locations Trade Show is strong as an increasing number of producers, production executives and other filmmaking decision-makers, including location scouts, view this as a must-attend event in order to get a better handle on relevant location trends, information and varied resources domestically and internationally.
Seminars Though panelists were in the process of being lined up at press time, the Locations Trade Show has three seminars scheduled, two of which are being organized by and held at Loyola Law School in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, April 17.
The Loyola program is aimed at filmmakers, lawyers, film commissioners and studio, network and indie executives. The first session will explore how digital technology is changing the face of filmed entertainment from script development and production to new means of distribution and exhibition, with a focus on evolving business and financial models. Panel moderator will be attorney Ezra Doner of Herrick, Feinstein LLP, New York.
The afternoon session, titled "Doubling Incentives," will present case studies of films that have accessed production incentives in two or more jurisdictions, overcoming creative, logistical and bureaucratic hurdles. Doner is also slated to moderate this panel discussion.
Separately the AFCI on the previous day, Thursday, April 16, has a panel discussion scheduled that will set out to explore the financial relationships between the film commission and production communities.
Slated for the Doubletree Guest Suites in Santa Monica, this session is a continuation of the dialogue between film commissioners and industry executives which began during last year's AFCI Cineposium in Wellington, New Zealand. Panel discussion moderator will be Jeff Monks, film commissioner at the South Carolina Film Commission.
University Also continuing is the AFCI University educational initiative for film commissioners. For the two days (April 14-15) prior to the beginning of the Locations Trade Show, the AFCI will present a Film Commission Professional class for aspiring film commissioners looking to get established. Plus there will be two Master Classes, one centering on the film commissioner as economic developer, the other focusing on marketing strategies for film commissions.
The AFCI University is designed to raise the qualifications and professional standards for film commissions and commissioners so they can be of even greater service to the production community at large.
The upcoming round of AFCI University classes will be held at the Sheraton Delfina Hotel, down the street from the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
For more info on the Locations Trade Show and AFCI University, log onto www.afci.org.