Film Commissioners Take on Sundance
Many of the world’s leading independent filmmakers that flocked to this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah had the privilege to meet with government entities providing production hubs, industry sessions, parties, and more.
According to Kevin Clark, executive director at the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI), Sundance 2013 was attended by more than 20 AFCI members, including those from Louisiana, Utah, Florida, North Carolina, California, Montana, San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Quebec, Dominican Republic, Illinois and New York. With 2013 being its first year at the event, the AFCI Beyond Cinema Media Studio set up shop on upper Main Street and offered a welcome party to kick off the Festival’s opening weekend. The studio also hosted a number of events with receptions by various film offices, including North Carolina, Montana, San Antonio and Ft. Lauderdale. “The idea is [that] there are talent, producers [and] directors that go through the studio all week long, and we involve those people in a larger conversation about what film commissioners do and how locations, jurisdictions and commissions support the overall role in production,” Clark explained. “It’s been a real service to the members because we are able to keep the cost down [as well as] help them secure fantastic space here on Main Street.”
The state of Montana also made a strong impression at the Festival by throwing a party known as the Montana Filmmaker Reception. “All the filmmakers are here in Park City for Sundance,” said Deny Staggs of the Montana Film Office, “[and] we invite the industry to come by and learn more about Montana and our tax incentive, crews [and] locations [and] to network.” To make the event memorable for visiting filmmakers, the Film Commission provided Montana music and spirits.
California was also well represented as several film commissioners promoted filming in the state, including Executive Director Jerry Day of the Tuolumne County Film Commission and Executive Director Kathleen Dodge of the El Dorado/Lake Tahoe Film & Media Office. “The filmmakers bought me up here,” said Dodge. “It’s an amazing event [that’s] so friendly, and lots of filmmakers and emerging filmmakers … are interested in shooting in the state of California.” In addition to promoting their own locals, Dodge, Day and other California film commissioners showcased the Film Liaisons in California Statewide (FLICS) organization. And to promote filming in Los Angeles, FilmL.A. took out a full-page, back-cover ad in the Festival magazine Inside Sundance Institute with the tagline “You Can Make It in Los Angeles.”
According to North Carolina Film Office Director Aaron Syrett, his state representatives kept busy at Sundance while reconnecting with clients, meeting with new clients, and seeing a lot of good movies. And Dominican Republic Film Commissioner Ellis Perez made the rounds promoting their unique locations and tax credit. “We’re here to let people know about our new studio, tax incentive, locations and new water tank,” Perez reported.
The host state of Utah was the most visible at Sundance as one of the Festival’s main sponsors, maintaining “The Hub” on lower Main Street along with FilmUtah Magazine and adnews. In addition to offering filmmakers a place to come in from the cold, the Hub presented networking opportunities, entertainment, industry panels and giveaways. The Utah Film Commission and the AFCI held an invitation-only Filmmakers Brunch at the Sundance House, presented by HP. Utah government officials were also on hand to promote filming in the state. “While other states across this country were actually cutting back on their film incentives, Utah was moving forward and implementing ongoing funding for the program and actually increasing the percentage from 20 to 25 percent,” boasted Spencer P. Eccles, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “Just know that Governor Herbert is supportive and moving forward. He’s a big fan of film.”
1. Marshall Moore, director Utah Film Commission at the Utah Filmmakers Brunch.
2. Kevin Clark, executive director AFCI
3. Deny Staggs, director Montana Film Office