Film commission confab draws 4,000

Business networks at locations tradeshow

Film commissions from around the globe converged in Santa Monica last week for their yearly three-day confab.

The AFCI (Assn. of Film Commissioners Intl.) Locations Trade Show ’08, held at Santa Monica’s Civic Center, drew an estimated 4,000 film industry professionals and hopefuls for the 300 exhibitors from more than 30 countries.

“AFCI member film commissions are the world’s best source of information about incentives, financing, locations and production resources,” said Robin James, AFCI president as well as CEO of the Pacific Film & Television Commission in Brisbane, Australia. The tradeshow, James added, is a rich source of such information.

While states like Michigan touted their newly passed incentives, Thailand boasted of some 500 foreign films last year, with those productions drawn to the country strictly because of its locations, efficient production costs and experienced crew base — no government incentives.

Thailand’s terrain attracts Vietnamese productions and often passes for China as well. “American Gangster” shot there, benefiting from Thailand’s film infrastructure.

Peru, which sent reps to the tradeshow for the first time, promoted the change in its policy toward securing film production and foreign investment instead of focusing solely on tourism. Losing an opportunity to draw production of a James Bond film to Chile prompted talks to develop and promote its local film industry along with the diversity of its locales and history.

Closer to home, the city of Fresno touted its success in transforming what would have been a second-unit shot with only a motorcycle into multiple scenes involving the first unit, full crew and stars on “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Image Locations was on hand showcasing Southern California locations with its innovative “Location Swatch.” The 400-page swatch book includes privately owned properties and businesses boasting designer pedigrees, in addition to California permit info, sunrise/sunset charts and featured production services and stages. More information is available at Locationswatch.com.

Louisiana locales, faring well despite increased film incentive competition, reported production on 26 feature pics in ’06, 53 last year and 28 to date for ’08. Commissioners attributed their production numbers to the dedication of the film industry to the state and biz.

The AFCI also launched phase two of its global initiatives with a new graphic look and master classes on “Advanced Studies in Filmmaking” and “Leadership for Film Commissioners,” as well as seminars dealing with the subtleties of foreign production: “Soft Money 4: Spotlight on the Middle East, India & China and Worldwide Production Incentives Update,” sponsored by the AFCI and Loyola Law School, and “Greasing Palms on Location: What You Need to Know About the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

AFCI chief exec Bill Lindstrom touted the event’s “unique global networking opportunities” for producers and production execs “who need to keep up with international location trends, information and resources.”

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