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Monday, 30 January 2012 06:00

AFCI Cineposium 2011

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The Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) held their prestigious Cineposium in Enghien-les-Bains, an enchanting city just north of Paris in the Val d’Oise region of Ile de France. With a long history of filmmaking; great cultural and economic support for productions of all kinds; and world-famous film festivals and markets; Paris was the ideal setting for Cineposium 2011.

“I think we all have a lot to learn from France and from the relationships we build with our French colleagues,” says AFCI CEO Martin Cuff. “Ile de France Film Commission was instrumental in securing much of the infrastructure that was used to host the event, including the impressive Cineposium venue, as well as advising and guiding content discussions and making recommendation of speakers and presenters."

Yann Marchet of Ile de France Film Commission notes that the event created an opportunity to showcase Ile de France locations to the global market. “Our region is one of [the] key places in the world for filming, but most people only know Paris,” says Marchet. “That’s why we chose Enghien-les-Bains. It was the perfect place to organize this event and to show that our region is a concentration of exceptional locations.” Cineposium participants stayed at the prestigious Hotel du Lac where many of the scheduled events took place. Centre des Arts (within walking distance of the hotel) provided a large theater setting for screenings and served as a pleasant venue for img_5727_smpresentations and discussions that where enhanced by visual presentations in the theater. 

According to Cuff, the number of attendees drops whenever the Cineposium is held outside of California. “We expected and received a lot of support from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but people did travel from farther afield too,” Cuff explains. “At the end of the day, I was actually delighted with the way it turned out, because everyone got to know everyone and the networking benefits were therefore exceptional.”

Prior to this year’s event, film commissioners attended AFCI University where they learned their craft while discussing their leadership roles and the economics of bringing film production to their region. The Cineposium opened with a reception that included silent movies at the Centre des Arts accompanied by live music from Serge Bromberg, who’s famous for his restoration of old movies. This was followed by a cocktail reception at the Hotel du Lac, which overlooks the picturesque lake in Enghien.

Cineposium sessions included keynote presentations on strategic leadership; general sessions on social media and building relationships; and workshops on various topics, including Green Initiatives, Social Media and Sustainability. During a session attendees were actually tweeting about it, and their tweets were seen live on a large theater screen. “Even the traditional ‘How Would You Handle It?’ [session] received a facelift with the addition of Twitter, allowing members to participate from their offices or homes,” reports Joan Miller, AFCI VP and director of the Vancouver Island North Film Commission.. “It was great to see social media being used to bring our members who could not attend into the conversation.”

img_5939_2smKevin “K.J.” Jennings, executive manager at Film Queenstown of Film Otago Southland, New Zealand, especially enjoyed the session on film tourism and found it to be very valuable. “We are always under pressure to demonstrate our value,” he explains. “Film tourism is the gift that keeps on giving. I think this is a key message that we [as film commissioners] need to communicate more effectively. In addition to the initial boost that the economy gets during production, the tourism spinoffs can continue to create revenue streams on an ongoing basis.”

Other highlights of this year’s Cineposium included a Renaissance party held at the famous Chateau d’Ecouen. Attendees enjoyed a 20-minute bus ride to the historic Chateau, which was built in 1538–1550 for Anne de Montmorency, a major patron of the arts in France and a protector of Huguenot artists. It currently serves as a museum (the Musée de la Renaissance) that features Renaissance objects and collections. After freely walking the grounds and witnessing many artifacts, attendees enjoyed a congenial gathering.

The event’s closing reception was held in the lavishly decorated ceremonial rooms of Hotel de Ville, a City Hall building in Paris that’s not open to the general public as it houses the Mayor of Paris and local administrators. After the reception, the bus convoy took attendees on a sightseeing trip of Paris that ended at a site overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

Due to the changing industry, it has become evident that today’s film commissioners are required to wear many hats. “We are now expected to be authorities in economic development, tourism, social media and conflict resolution,” says Miller. “You need to understand budgets, tracking models and have an electronic Rolodex that can open doors at any time of the day or night.” Given these expectations, Cineposium 2011 provided a great opportunity for film commissioners to add new skills and learn from industry experts. It also provided a perfect setting for government officials to interact and share their personal stories with others who understand the value they bring to the entertainment industry and their economies.

The next AFCI Cineposium is due to take place in Los Angeles, Calif. in 2012.

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