The Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) has recently concluded its annual Cineposium. Among other business, it announced its board of directors for 2015, including continuing board member Film Otago Southland’s Kevin Jennings.
Other board members come from Austria, Colombia, Jordan, Norway, Serbia, Sweden and the US. The AFCI comprises nearly 300 film commissions from around the globe, and offers a certification programme for individuals.
High on the list of interesting cineposium sessions was Drone Wars, topical in view of the US’ recent decision to allow UAVs to be used for commercial filmmaking on US soil. It’s an issue that’s the subject of contemplation and legislation in plenty of other territories as well. Speaking to the AFCI, the FAA’s Manager of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, James Williams, spoke in favour of the use of drones for filmmaking, noting that they were smaller and safer than many alternative ways to achieve aerial photography.
Drones, or UAVs, also represent a very big business opportunity for NZ according to the CEO of Callaghan Innovation, Dr Mary Quin, who made the point in her Reeves Lecture address last month, straplined If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes.
AFCI also offered a sadly topical session on on-set safety in the wake of the death on Midnight Rider of camera assist Sarah Jones and the subsequent Slates for Sarah campaign.
The programme also included the regular session Measuring Impact, discussions around the best practice in quantifying the effects (good or otherwise) of hosting productions, citing some innovative advertiser-driven work such as a Subway campaign around Lost which delivered benefits to both the sandwich maker and Hawaii’s tourism numbers. It’s hard to imagine that Hawaii needs much help promoting itself as a tourist destination, but it’s been doing so effectively through film ever since the Elvis Presley-starring Blue Hawaii – a film whose storyline revolved around promoting Hawaii as a tourist destination.
AFCI ran one session closed to all bar actual film commissioners. Incentives: Where do we go from here? explored what film commissions might expect or require from productions in return for access to incentive schemes.
Although Jennings’ Otago Southland region hasn’t yet been a major beneficiary of the change to incentive rates under the new NZSPG it’s also fair to say that, with the volume of commercials the region services, it was less affected than other parts of the country when the previous incentive rates were considered to be ineffective.
In his recent address to the Big Screen Symposium NZFC CEO Dave Gibson commented, “I think the industry is going to seriously heat up in 2015.”
The overall picture looks encouraging for the next year. screeNZ understands that Avatar might not commence production as early as some reports have suggested, but there are other productions lining up: the feature Light Between Oceans (part of which will shoot in Otago Southland); the BBC’s Tatau (being made with SPP); and Libertine’s co-productions, Wild Survivor with Australia’s Prospero and Neil Cross’ drama Bay of Plenty with Carnival for the BBC.
There are other productions confirmed but not yet announced and more currently in discussions. The announcement last week of MediaWorks’ intention to get a five days a week soap into production next year will also offer a (hopefully longterm) ongoing boost to the amount of production work available.
With many of those productions targeting a range of locations around the country Jennings and his RFONZ colleagues will hopefully be kept busy keeping lots of other people busy going forward.
AFCI ran 3 – 5 October in New York. Next year’s AFCI Cineposium will focus entirely on Film Tourism. Bids to host the 2015 Cineposium are open.