Film Otago Southland Executive Manager Kevin (KJ) Jennings has become the only person in the Southern hemisphere to be designated as a Certified Film Commissioner in the world-wide accreditation programme run by the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI).
Mr Jennings is one of just 24 people to obtain the qualification, which involved a course of study and workshops in topics ranging from economic development and marketing, to advanced studies of film production. In 2011 Mr Jennings was awarded a Professional Development Scholarship from the AFCI and in 2012 he received a Professional Development Award from the New Zealand Film Commission, both of which enabled him to achieve this certification. He also sits on the board of directors of the AFCI.
The qualification is also being noticed at the national level. “KJ is a fantastic advocate for our Otago Southland and wider New Zealand screen sector,” says New Zealand Film Commission Chief Executive Dave Gibson. “I’m delighted that his hard work has been recognised and I want to congratulate him as he continues to talk-up our skilled and talented industry, fantastic landscapes and new incentives overseas.”
Achieving the certification would have benefits to the screen industry in Otago-Southland and nationally, Mr Jennings said. “I know most of the other 23 commissioners who have gone through the programme and am able to bounce ideas off them or ask advice on how something might be working in their country. The networking and education opportunities that AFCI provide allow us to stay at the top of our game.”
Film Otago Board Chairman Dave Comer said Mr Jennings had proved time and again that being from a geographically remote region was no barrier to contributing to the film industry both in New Zealand and internationally. “Becoming a Certified Film Commissioner can only strengthen KJ’s ability to add value to the film industry,” Mr Comer said.
The New Zealand film industry was in the spotlight last month following the BAFTA nominations and the LOGIE award for the critically acclaimed mini-series Top of the Lake. Mr Jennings said, “Top of the Lake is a perfect example of how a successful co-production can create ongoing benefits to the screen industry and have the added bonus of driving tourism as well.”
The industry has also made news with the recent increase in incentives. “It’s an exciting time, co-productions create opportunities to use our network of film offices to introduce producers in various countries that might not otherwise connect. Our role is not to be producers, it’s to connect and enable producers, so obviously the more points of contact the New Zealand industry has, the better.”