With COVID still forcing lockdowns in countries around the world, the role of the Assn. of Film Commissioners Intl. has never been more important to the production community. The professional organization continues to attract more members, recently adding Film Coop, the Cooperstown, Oneonta and Otsego Film Partnership, Canada’s London Economic Development Corp. and the United Arab Emirates’ Shams Film Commission. The AFCI membership also elected Timothy Owase, the Kenya Film commissioner, to the AFCI board starting in January. And the AFCI has a new president, New Zealander Kevin Jennings, who was AFCI board chair from 2016-19. For 13 years, he was executive manager of New Zealand’s Film Otago Southland, which has worked with such productions as “Mulan.” Variety spoke to Jennings about challenges AFCI members and the production community face in the coming year.
What are you excited to bring to AFCI?
I’m eager to combine my many years of film office experience with my prior AFCI leadership experience to lead our organization into 2021 and the post-COVID world. Film and TV production can help kick-start economies devastated by the pandemic, and our members serve as a vital link between government and the production industry. The work we do as film commissioners has a profound and very positive impact. Overall, I look forward to leading AFCI through this challenging time by building on past success, facilitating new connections and evolving to meet new challenges.
What are the immediate challenges that AFCI can address for its members?
COVID-19 has added a whole new set of variables that are constantly in flux. As safety requirements change, we are focused on helping our members employ best practices, communicate vital information and assert their role as a trusted resource.
Our signature annual events — AFCI Week and Cineposium — have been sidelined during the pandemic, so we continue to seek out new platforms for engaging our members.
And how can AFCI respond to those challenges?
During the pandemic, we have placed even more emphasis on keeping members connected to the industry and their fellow members.
In addition to online meetings, webinars and workshops, we have launched the AFCI COVID-19 Global Production Alert to provide updated information on pandemic-related policies and restrictions affecting production locales worldwide. This new section of our website helps the industry access the information required to make informed decisions during the pandemic. It also helps film offices prevent misinformation, speculation and confusion about COVID-19 policies in their jurisdiction. The Global Production Alert is a one-stop source for the latest COVID-19-related information direct from film offices around the world.
Another exclusive AFCI resource is our Global Production Network Tool, which connects content producers directly with film offices to find the most suitable locations, stages, incentives and other resources.
Everything we do at AFCI is focused on delivering value to our members and the production industry.