Fostering Economic Development & Job Growth
FOUNDED IN 1975, Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) is the only global non-profit professional organization representing city, state, regional, provincial and national film commission members on six continents.
Film commissions are invited to complete the application for membership. After a review period the commission is formally welcomed as a member, and all staff members of the commission are encouraged to participate in the AFCI member benefits.
AFCI provides advocacy, connectivity and education necessary for film commissions and businesses in the screen sector to foster economic growth, to initiate the groundwork for strong infrastructure and provide the essentials for professional development in a fair, sustainable and socially diverse manner world-wide.
Driving Economic Growth
The film, television and new media industry generates economic growth through the hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually on production, post-production and VFX work and creation of thousands of middle class, below-the-line jobs. A tentpole feature film can spend well over $250,000 per day in a local economy and a large national or international television commercial can generate local spending of up to $1 million in less than two weeks. The economic impact generated by productions positively impacts local hotels, car and truck rental, catering, barricade rentals, local cast and crew, and a host of other local businesses. Moreover, film production can help generate sustained growth in tourism.
A Valuable Partner
Film Commissions are valuable partners in the process, often acting as the quasi production office before a production sets up shop. The presence of a Commission, its level of development and resources offered can be a determining factor in whether production companies will consider bringing production to a particular region. In today’s highly competitive environment Film Commissions are becoming both an economic necessity – an integral ingredient in attracting the industry and its ensuing revenue to a region.
Why Work With A Commission?
AFCI Member Film Commissions can offer production companies a complete range of pre-production services through a central contact point. Our members provide accurate and timely information regarding local crew depth, stage facilities and other infrastructure, location suggestions (assisting with site location photography, regional scouting services, bespoke location presentations), film procedures, permits, and guidelines. They can also serve as a liaison between governmental departments and agencies, facilitating connections with local communities and arrangements for filming on public property.
Kevin “KJ” Jennings, the former head of one of New Zealand’s regional film commissions and AFCI Board Chair from 2016-2019 has returned to the organization as AFCI President.
He takes the helm after serving for 13 years as executive manager of Film Otago Southland in New Zealand, where he helped raise the country’s profile as an international filming destination and make entertainment production a major contributor to the nation’s economy.
Notable projects that filmed in Jenning’s region in recent years include big-budget studio features like Mulan, Mission: Impossible – Fallout and The Hobbit. Under Jennings’ leadership, Film Otago Southland earned the 2019 “Outstanding Film Commission” award from the Location Managers Guild International.
Marj Galas serves as SVP, Membership and Industry Relations and is involved in supporting the member body, overseeing AFCI University course content and managing partnerships that benefit AFCI’s connections with the production community.
Prior to joining AFCI, Galas was the Editor at Variety 411 where she managed the 411 e-newsletter, web and marketing content. As a reporter, her stories have been featured in Variety, Variety 411, Below the Line News, Creative Content Wire and Tradeshow Week.Her foray in the entertainment business began in Boston where she worked as an edit tutor at Boston Neighborhood Network, an Assistant Stage Manager for the Sugan Theater and a Prop Master for Boston Conservatory.
Joanne Stribling has worked in accounting and business development for over 30 years, for a variety of different industries including non-profits, government and the entertainment industry. Along with her accounting expertise, she has also developed several businesses herself, and coached new entrepreneurs to do the same.
As a seasoned Director of Operations, she is passionate about supporting AFCI’s financial success, as well as actively developing and streamlining systems to help maximize AFCI’s efficiencies and resources for the strengthening of the organization. She is the organization’s point-person all accounting matters.
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Joseph D. Chianese, EVP of Financial Solutions, Entertainment Partners
Mary Ann Hughes, VP of Film & TV Production Planning, Walt Disney Studios
Bruce Hendricks, Head of Production, Dick Cook Studios
Keith Murphy, SVP Government Relations & Regulatory Counsel, Viacom
Kimberly Rach, Global Head of Production, YouTube
Jay Roewe, SVP of Production, HBO
Brandi Griffith, Production Executive, Facebook Watch Originals
Mylan Stepanovich, SVP/Head of Physical Production, New Regency
Veronica Sullivan, VP of Government Affairs, NBCUniversal
Carol Trussell, Head of Production, Apple
Keith Weaver, EVP of Worldwide Government Affairs, Sony Pictures
Michael Walbrecht, VP of Public Affairs, Warner Bros. Entertainment
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The History of AFCI
After being founded in 1975, AFCI developed a major educational event called AFCI Cineposium. The first Cineposium was held in 1976. Held annually, this conference-style program features professional development seminars designed to teach film commissioners about the management and processes unique to the film commission business as well as networking opportunities between film commissioners and members of the production community.
In 1985, the AFCI initiated Locations Show, the first on-location trade show for film and television production. Held annual in Los Angeles, the event was developed to provide the production community with an opportunity to meet with film commissioners and learn more about tax incentives, rebates and the benefits of on-location shooting.
As new forms of generating content arise daily, AFCI saw the need for a different level of connectivity between its membership and the production community that rose above the confines of a trade show. In 2018, the Location Show evolved into AFCI Week. Held annually in Los Angeles, this five-day long member-only event focuses on connecting our global members and event sponsors with high-level industry decision makers. Partnering with leaders in the entertainment and production industries, AFCI Week ensures attendees prime opportunities for education, networking and lead generation outcome. AFCI Week features six key activities: Professional Development Days, Networking Reception, Meet the Execs, the Physical Production Power Brunch, AFCI’s Global Lounge and an Industry Tour Day.
During the late 1940s, the first film commission was formed in the United States in response to the need for film companies to have a local government liaison who could coordinate police, state trooper, and highway patrols; road and highway departments; fire departments; park rangers and other essential municipal and government services for shooting a production on location.
According to AFCI archives, George White established the Moab Film Commission as an offshoot of the Moab Chamber of Commerce in 1949.
“In existence for 60 years, the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission holds the title of the longest running film commission in North America.”
“Utah Native George White saw the need for a film commission when John Ford had expressed such interest in the Moab and Monument Valley areas. Originating with Stagecoach in 1939, and filming Wagon Master ten years later, Mr. White officially established the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission in 1949.”
Vanity Fair also ran an article that talked about Harry Goulding being responsible for bringing Hollywood attention to Moab/Monument Valley. As a result of the rich filming history, the Moab area has an established crew base and ample production services capable of accommodating just about any project, large or small.
The Colorado Film Commission was the first “government-sanctioned” film commission in 1969. Karol Smith was the first official film commissioner. Colorado is recognized as the first AFCI film commission and, obviously, a charter member.
As more production companies began to look beyond the limits of a regular production center for realistic and varied locations, more cities and states began to see the need for production coordination liaison. They were also keenly aware of the economic benefits brought by film and video production companies to their areas.
The AFCI incorporated in Washington, D.C. in 1983.
The services provided by film commissions have expanded in response to the growth of on-location filming. For producers of film, episodic television and commercials, film commissions today provide a gamut of free services, from scouting locations within their area to trouble-shooting with local officials and helping cut through paperwork and bureaucratic red tape. Some provide hard economic incentives, such as tax rebates and hotel discounts for location scouts. Others offer a variety of essential free services including research for screenwriters or liaison work with local government agencies.
As the services of film commissions have grown, so have their marketing efforts. From advertising to direct mail to Locations Show, film commissions are reaching industry decision makers where they live.
Established by cities, counties, states, provinces or federal governments, film commissions are generally operated and funded by various agencies of government, such as the governor’s office, the mayor’s office, the county board of supervisors, chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus, travel commissions, and business and economic development departments as well as non-profits.
Their primary responsibility is to attract film and video production to their area to accrue the locally-realized benefits of hiring local crews and talent, renting local equipment, using hotel rooms, rental cars, catering services, or any number of goods and services supplied on location.
While attracting business to their area, they also attract visitors. Film scenes at a particular location are in themselves “soft-sell” vehicles that also promote that location as a desirable site for future tourism and industry.
Although the AFCI’s membership is uniquely diverse, all the commissions have one goal in common: to attract filmmakers and videographers to their respective regions by providing services that a producer would be hard-pressed to acquire without their assistance. The benefits of working with Film Commission are ever-expanding as they meet the ever-changing global production demands.
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