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Los Angeles preps for AFCI Locations & Global Finance Show

Between April 21 and 23 more than 3,000 delegates will gather at the Marriott Burbank Conference Center in LA for the 31st Annual Locations Show, organised by the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI). 

For the first time they will also be given access to the Global Finance Conference, a new event designed to complement the Locations Show. The reconfigured event will now be known as the Locations & Global Finance Show.

“The production, finance and location decision-makers who make up the majority of attendees at the event will have an opportunity to talk with film commissions and other exhibitors from around 30 countries,” says Kevin Clark, executive director of the AFCI.

“With the addition of the Global Finance Conference they’ll also get to hear from film finance leaders in markets like China, Europe, Latin America and India about co-production opportunities and other sources of funding.”

Although financing and locations is a year-round business for the AFCI and its membership, Clark says “there’s nothing quite like meeting people face-to-face to discuss what a country or region has to offer. 

“Savvy producers know that the Locations & Global Finance Show is a chance to get information you can’t find on a commission website. It’s a way of getting past any headlines about incentives or locations to learn about the crew costs, the equipment and the true cost of doing business.”

The most visible element of the event is the exhibitors’ booths, with just shy of 120 organisations primed to talk to delegates at this year’s event. Clark says there is a strong emphasis on getting out and networking. “My advice to new exhibitors is to see the booth as the price of entry to the LA film and TV community, a kind of mobile office. The more established commissions host events before and after the show itself, using it as an opportunity to talk to the LA production community.”

Networking is a key dimension of the conference programme. “If you see someone you want to talk to on a panel then there is plenty of opportunity to do so, we have a lot of extended breakfast and lunch sessions,” Clark adds.

The conference will have a keynote address by Jason Reed, executive producer of ABC's historical drama Of Kings and Prophets (pictured), which filmed primarily in South Africa. Reed, who previously served as general manager of Walt Disney Studios International Production, will discuss his international experience relating to co-productions and filming incentives.

Clark also anticipates a “lot of buzz around what China is doing – particularly in light of the fact that Wanda Group has just acquired legendary Entertainment (for $3.5bn).” On Thursday 21 April there will be a panel discussion on the opportunities for co-production with Chinese companies. Expert speakers will include: Rob Cain, Lightsource Asia Media Group/President, Pacific Bridge Pictures; Attorney Schuyler (Sky) Moore of Stroock, Gary Kho, CEO and CTO at Wanda Studios Qingdao, and Aoni Ma, COO of Film Finances China.

India (pictured, right) will also be put under the microscope in another panel discussion that focuses on the challenges and opportunities in one of the world's largest and fastest-growing film and media markets. Topics covered will include: local production, co-production, financing, incentives, legal, tax and regulatory issues, Hindi- and English-language and regional cinema.  

Panelists include Rick Ambros of Lightsource Asia Media Group/Benchmark Studios, Vikramjit Roy, Head of India's Film Facilitation Office (NFDC), Raghav Mani of Ernst & Young, and Arnold Peter, Founding Partner of Peter Law Group.

Clark stresses that Europe is not to be overlooked. “The eastern European country of Georgia is keen to promote its incentive programme so will have a high profile at this year’s show. But as always we’ll also have a strong presence from a lot of the established European markets.” 

There is, for example, a session entitled ‘Accessing and Combining Europe’s Film Funds’ in which Hans Radau and Ulrich Michel of Noerr LLP will explain how to navigate Europe’s complex incentives system and maximise benefits. In addition, Anja Metzger of the Bavarian Film Commission in Germany will present clear guidance as to how the whole range of German film incentives can be combined.

In terms of the kind of business done at the event, Clark says the timeframe of location selection is such that it is rare for a formal deal to be done during the event: “It’s more about making sure producers and location managers are aware of what you offer. That said, the Netherlands came away from last year’s show with a piece of a Netflix production, which is the kind of story we’re always delighted to be able to share.”

Aside from market intelligence and peer to peer networking, another key aspect of the AFCI’s work is education. The day before the 2016 Show starts, under the label AFCI University, it will run sessions on the safe and legal use of drones and proper care of animals on set. 

Clark also points to a separate AFCI-backed event called Cineposium, which was first held way back in 1976: “This is an education event which, unlike The Locations & Global Finance Show, moves venue each year,” he says. “Last year it was in Barcelona and this year it is in Atlanta (pictured below).”

For this year’s event, which takes place from September 22-24, the focus will be on infrastructure - how to build it, maintain it and manage crew development to meet its needs. This is an apt subject given the success that the US state of Georgia has had attracting big-budget film and TV productions.

In terms of likely talking points at next week’s Locations & Global Finance Show, Clark says “filming incentives will inevitably be a key focus for delegates. The show is a chance to get up to speed with any changes in incentives and the laws governing them. In the US, they are a real political football at the moment because we are building up to an election.”

Echoing trends across the media industry, Clark also expects there to be a lot of attention paid to TV production: “There’s no question that any of our film commissions would love to be given the opportunity to host a successful returning TV show.”

One other narrative that will be interesting is the kind of feedback international film commissions get with regard to California’s recently-extended incentive programme. With the Locations Show’s host state currently winning back a significant amount of runaway production (especially in TV), the pressure will be on for other film commissions to raise their game.

 






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