Incentives and Drones, two key issues for film commissions
Every year the AFCI (the Association of Film Commissioners International) gives its members the opportunity to get together and share, review and improve its working dynamics as coordinators for the audiovisual industry and main contacts for shoots on location at the annual AFCI Cineposium. The Barcelona Film Commission was there and shares the highlights of the event with KFTV readers.
This year the new “Mecca” of on-location film and TV shoots, New York, has acted as the backdrop for the two day occasion, which saw over 150 film commission representatives tackle issues such as tax incentives, film tourism strategies and the pitfall and legislative matters around the use of drones.
With tax incentives being one of the main issues in Barcelona (mainly since they are part of the remit of the Spanish central government) the attendees from the Barcelona film commission were interested in the details of the different tax incentives, credits and breaks available around the globe. Paul Audley from FilmL.A. filled us in on the new tax incentives in California, which are meant to boost the number of on-location shoots in the state, while NBC Universal tax counsellor Brian O’Leary explained how figures and impact measuring are key to get authorities to create incentives, as happened in New York a few years ago - with glowing results.
Incentives could actually be classified as the key issue in this year’s Cineposium, with commissions sharing both good and bad experiences depending on the different requirements and systems of each territory. The conclusion: do not create an incentive without taking into consideration the industry needs. However, the final word will always have to come from politicians and legislators who will have to share the industry’s interest and understand its economic impact. Co-productions treaties were also discussed in an international panel as an alternative form of film financing.
Drones were the other hot topic of the event. The logistic, creative and economical advantages that these devices can offer location shoots have often collided with the legislative regulations in various territories. So far, only Canadian authorities seem to have found a satisfactory solution, allowing drones in non-populated as well as urban areas, which is helping to attract multiple large studio productions towards their territory.
James Williams, from the US Federal Aviation Administration and responsible for unmanned aircraft systems, shed some light on the US panorama, describing drones as “a great innovation system with huge benefits regarding safety for filming”, and said that the current law in the US -which allows the use of drones, although in a more restrictive way than in Canada - would surely improve shortly. This is something we hope will soon happen in Spain, where drones are currently completely prohibited in open air spaces.
Finally, New York’s AFCI Cineposium highlighted the importance for film tourism strategies, in order to give film commissions a new incentive to get the funding in order to encourage and help filming in their regions. Film tourism is an issue that will be widely analysed and discussed in next year’s Cineposium at which it will be the main topic. Attracting secondary business through tourism is an issue that we feel is a perfect match for Barcelona, the city that – as was announced in New York – will host the next AFCI Cineposium. And we feel proud to welcome you. See you all in Barcelona in the autumn of 2015.
By Elena Subira i Roca, The Barcelona Film Commission