Location scouts’ bazaar

Trade Show took place April 16-18

HOLLYWOOD — Reps for Michigan and New York were on hand at the annual Locations Trade Show — held April 16-18 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium — seeking to dispel any myths about funding for their states’ film incentives.

The Assn. of Film Commissioners Intl.-hosted confab welcomed more than 3,000 attendees and 240 exhibitors from more than 30 countries and 180 AFCI member film commissions. It has become one of the longest-running North American entertainment industry trade events.

Michigan film office head Janet Lockwood proudly displayed posters that declared “Michigan is not out of money. 2008 filmmakers are getting their checks. There is no cap, no percentage lowering. Contact the Michigan Film Office for the facts.”

New York is expecting more than $2.2 billion in film production based on current applications as a result of the state’s recently passed $350 million in tax credits, reported Pat Swinney Kaufman, from the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture & TV Development.

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“In this environment, this is important,” Kaufman said. “We’re very happy we can continue to provide the incentives and services that worked so well in the past.”

Mary Nelson, AFCI’s new board president, said incentives “have certainly changed the way that everyone does business. We are living in a time when everyone from governments to film studios to individuals is concerned about fiscal responsibility and is keeping a close eye on the budget and the bottom line.”

Nelson added that film commissioners are committed to bringing jobs, revenue and economic benefit to their areas.

“As long as film incentives provide these benefits, they will continue to be a powerful force,” Nelson concluded.

Louisiana’s Arlena Acree was touting Shreveport’s inclusion as a production center. The city received IATSE approval at midnight on April 16.

“This strengthens the state and our teamwork,” added New Orleans film commissioner Jennifer Day.

Consortiums were in full force to increase visibility: California commission representatives boasted about their new 20%-25% tax credit; Texas reps announced their upcoming 17.5% production incentive; the Royal Film Commission of Jordan created an entire marketplace; Montana, Idaho, South Dakota and Wyoming teamed for a joint booth; and Canada, Italy and France were just a few of the commissions with multiple booths.

Since launching its Global Initiatives program, the AFCI has seen a number of new or returning participants at the Locations Trade Show, including Bruge, Belgium; the Czech Republic; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Tourism Malaysia; the Philippines; and Panama, all in 2008. This year included Serbia, Bavaria Film Group, Namibia and Turbo, Colombia.

Last year, the AFCI added more than 20 members, including new commissions in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Chile, the Philippines, New Zealand, Italy, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

AFCI chief exec Bill Lindstrom noted that the confab offered an “incomparable” opportunity “for information gathering and business networking for the entertainment industry, especially in these difficult economic times.”

Also at the tradeshow, AFCI offered programs, seminars and panels such as “Candid Conversations With Studio Executives Part 2: The Film Commission as Investor,” “Soft Money 5+: Digital and Dollars: Production Through Exhibition” and “Globalization and Incentives: Film Without Borders.” Participants included studio execs and AFCI commissioners.

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