Outside of film festivals and networking conferences, the AFCI Locations Trade Show was our first industry trade show. Comicon, E3 and NAB can pass for industry-related trade shows, but this one is specifically for filming locations. The one thing that I really enjoyed was the 2-7 p.m. show hours! This allows production to get things done in the morning and still have time to head to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium to investigate the show.
I was pretty impressed with all the film commissions that held booths at the show, as well as numerous vendors: HVAC unit rentals, hotels, government and tourism offices. All the tchotchkes and sweets at each stop were tempting!
Domestically, all the states with filming tax incentives were present as well as all their regional film commissions. California and Louisiana probably had the most regional film commissions stretching over 3 aisles!
International film commissions representing almost every stretch of scenic land/water available for filming around the world were there, from Norway to Spain, Germany to Jordan, Thailand to Korea, Canada to Panama, The Virgin Islands to Australia. Of course, not every country was present. I was really disappointed, that the Philippines did not have a booth there. I wonder if the Philippines is a production friendly country? Since we do have some projects that are set in the Philippines, ideally we would film those in-country. If anyone has filmed there recently, please let me know.
Often, the film commissioners themselves were at the booths to answer questions about locale, weather restrictions, crew and equipment, studio facilities, production and (ahem!) financial support. Most conversations centered around upcoming productions and effects of the economic climate on filming. My badge had a bar code with BCurious Production's information so each booth that wanted my contact information just zapped by badge with a digital scanner - like at the grocery store- and no business card was given away! Very eco-friendly.
I talked to Louisiana, California, Canada and San Antonio film commissions at length about our slate of films. Andrew Saldana; the Vice President of Productions at SAF Studios in San Antonio, TX; and I began talking about mutual acquaintances - this industry is really small!
It was great to hear from many of the commissioners and location representatives how supportive they can be to a production: breaking down scripts for budgeting, assistance with tax incentives paperwork, finding crew, ease of shipping equipment and even sending photos of locations you need to find. For example, Jordan does not charge any taxes or customs on shipments, which can normally spike up the cost of filming abroad.
I tried not to walk away with too many brochures and production guides - 50 of those books in a single tote can weigh a person down! Not eco-friendly! Instead I opted for business cards to reference their online production guides or CDs. What did we do before the internet?
However, before I could leave the westside, I stopped by the Film Incentives &Financing Panel hosted by iHollywood Forum. Another new experience and crowd to network!
I met a colleague, Bill Kelman, Director/Producer, and several new faces Mireck Kullitt, Director; Saba Moor-Doucette, Actor; Jeff Braer, Creative Director and two of the panelists, Jenna Edwards, Producer; and Michael Bennett, CEO/Founder Bennett Global Entertainment. The panel was quite insightful in discussing the elements of a producer's package for investors, the current production environment, alternative distribution channel trends and financial opportunities.
An interesting tidbit- a tax credit is just that, it's a credit for company's tax return. A rebate or cash refund is an actual check that the production company receives upon an audit of production expenses in the state. So unless your business is incorporated in Louisiana, the tax credit, if transferable - which it is in Louisiana- would only benefit a Louisiana entity affiliated with the production. Sounds like tax refunds/rebates are easier to manage.
iHollywood Forum presents quarterly panels, the next one in June is on the future of 3-D. We'll be interested to see who they have on the panel for that timely discussion.
Dedicated chocolate-lover and curious traveler