Film commissioners from across the globe reunited to discuss production funding, locations, crewing, tax incentives and other important aspects of regional filming. The event hosted more than 160 exhibitors from 40 countries with representatives ready to lead panels and discuss location and incentive options in top filming destinations, such as U.S. favorites Louisiana, Utah, Texas, Montana and Michigan, and international hotspots like Thailand, Korea, Alberta and Germany.
“The new location worked out very well for us, but we were also able to partner with several other industry associations,” said AFCI Executive Director Kevin Clark. “The timing with the 1st annual LMGA awards was valuable for both our associations as well. We also had fantastic program of seminars this year. We are already well underway in plans and improvements for 2015.”
Today’s entertainment landscape has TV shows capitalizing on incentives by doing more shoots on location. This has film commissions worldwide battling to offer the best perks to visiting producers and directors. The 2014 AFCI Locations Show allowed attendees and exhibitors to get the most out of the event with smartphones, tablets and computers via the Show App, which was specifically designed to provide information and access to all participants.
Film in Iceland Commissioner Einar Tomasson was in attendance to promote Iceland. Shot in and around Iceland, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty recently won “Best Locations for a Feature Film” at the 1st Annual Location Managers Guild of America Awards. Tomasson believes this win will bring more notice to Iceland’s varied locations. “I believe it will create more interest in Hollywood because in Walter Mitty Iceland is substituting for Afghanistan, the Himalayas, Greenland and the Iceland that was part of the script,” he explains. “This shows a part of the variety Iceland has to offer in terms of great locations.”
Popular panels at this year’s Locations Show included “Trends and Outlooks for Film Incentives,” which focused on how locations and incentives programs around the world can attract productions. It also explored why film companies, especially independents, now want cash back easily and quickly instead of the headaches that usually come with getting a production made. The panel included Schuyler M. Moore, a partner in the corporate entertainment department of the law firm Stroock, who offered the bottom line on how regions can effectively keep productions happy. “For incentives that have been around for more than 10 years in the U.S., they basically offer either a rebate type or a tax credit,” Moore said. “Basically you get that credit or rebate after the production is over and they spent the money. I’m going to tell you how to beat Louisiana and make money. Instead of paying the money six months after production, just [pay] it up front and cut out the middleman, brokers, bankers, lenders and lawyers, and that will increase the amount of money you can actually give to the production company. What film companies need is financing, not credits, so why don’t you cut through the nonsense?”
Another Locations Show panelist was Phil Rodak, SVP of production and accounting at Fox TV Studios, who explained how television is much more forgiving that feature films when it comes to cheating a location. “You could actually go into television and green-screen it,” said Rodak. “You can make Shreveport look like Las Vegas. On the big screen, it’s a lot harder to do because it’s not as forgiving.”
The 2014 AFCI Locations Show proved to be a win-win for producers and film commissioners alike, with the sharing of updated location information benefitting all. And as regions constantly update incentive offerings and production perks, producers have a growing multitude of options when it comes to shooting on location.