When surveys of past attendees of ShowBiz Expo made it clear that at least 40% of the trade show audience had purchasing authority regarding film commissions and location services, it was decided the 1997 convention would feature an expanded exhibition area devoted to this production sub-area.
“We discovered that scouting and determining locations was a major interest of our attendees, so we’ve made it easier for them to find as many options for film locations as possible and how best to accommodate them while there,” says John Lewinski, vice president, media and entertainment group, Reed Exhibition Cos.
This expanded area will include about 75 exhibitors from all over the U.S., the Caribbean and some international destinations, including the U.K., Canada and Australia. Booths will offer advice on scouting, lodging, scenic details, logistics, architecture, crew, services, translators, equipment, transportation and permits.
Alice To, of the British Columbia Film Commission, which is making its second visit to ShowBiz Expo, said the commission had a couple of important reasons for attending the show. “We like to take a look at the changing technology of production, and see how we can better market our services to producers and directors.”
British Columbia, home to the television series “The X-Files” and “Stargate,” and a location for features including “Eaters of the Dead,” “Deep Rising” and “Mr. Magoo,” also is the base of Rainmaker Digital Pictures, which will share the booth with the B.C. Film Commission. Rainmaker, which opened a Burbank facility in the fall, offers post-production and digital effects support in Vancouver. “We want to keep a ‘top of mind’ awareness that everything a production needs is right here in British Columbia,” To adds.
Texas, another returnee to ShowBiz Expo, will split its booth between the city film commissions of Austin, El Paso, Dallas/Fort Worth, Irving, Houston and San Antonio with Allied Digital Technologies, which is the only company in Texas providing 35mm and 16mm lab services.
The Texas booth will feature a Quicktime Virtual Reality player to present pan shots of various locations, which shows not only what the location looks like but how it appears on a movie or TV screen. “Another of our purposes in doing this is to find out what technology producers and location managers prefer for location shots, since we now have several options, including standard print catalogs and e-mail libraries,” says Jodi McKergow of the Texas Film Commission.
Production companies spent nearly $300 million in Texas in 1996, which includes the films “Michael,” “Selena” and “subUrbia”; the television series “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “Barney & Friends” and “Austin City Limits,” as well as numerous TV movies, pilots, documentaries, short films and independent projects. Studio features “The Newton Boys” with Matthew McConaughey and Ethan Hawke and “Hope Floats” with Sandra Bullock currently are in production there.
“ShowBiz Expo is so well-attended, it’s a great venue for us to make lots of contacts,” McKergow says. “This year we’d like to focus on the distributors, to make them aware of the increasing numbers of independent films being shot in Texas.”