In his latest article in the “Revista de Cinema”, Steve Solot, President, Rio Film Commission and Latin American Training Center-LATC, and also Executive Director of the Brazilian Film Commission Network-REBRAFIC, writes about the true importance of film commision training and highligths the lack of formal training programs.

The True Importance of Film Commission Training

By Steve Solot

A film commission (FC), also known as an “office for support of audiovisual content production,” has two fundamental roles: a) to attract audiovisual productions to a given region; and b) provide logistical and operational support for filming in said region. FCs may serve as strategic tools for the sustainable development of the audiovisual sector, as well as contribute to economic development and job creation in general, which is especially relevant now in Brazil, as the audiovisual sector continues to expand, even at this time of severe economic crisis. From a technological and commercial point of view, the role of FC’s is even more important due to the increased demand from new audiovisual content platforms and the expansion of filming in many different locations.

By including film commissions in its 2013 Audiovisual Directives and Goals Plan, the National Cinema Agency – ANCINE, recognized the strategic role of the FC’s for the audiovisual sector in Brazil, and stated the goal of “expanding the number of FC’s to support of foreign audiovisual productions. ”  the Plan further states that” the implementation of film commissions, and their continuous  and coordinated links with public services, are important factors to  attract investments in film, television and advertising. ”

Despite the above significant overall goal, there is no reference to the qualification and / or certification of film commissions. This situation is of concern for two main reasons, namely:

1) The disorganized proliferation of film commissions, without operational standards, training and certification, is inconsistent with  the current positive trend and the rapid expansion of virtually all segments of the Brazilian audiovisual industry, and thus becomes a fragile link in the production chain for national audiovisual content;

2) In recent years, and especially as Brazil became the focus of world attention with the World Soccer Cup and the Olympics, the country witnessed an enormous growth in demand for audiovisual support services, provided not only by FC’s in large urban centers , but also by those the interior of the country.

The lack of formal training programs for film commissions in Brazil is worrisome in view of the many film commissions managed by individuals without any training and experience in the audiovisual industry. As a result, barriers are created, not only for domestic producers, but also for international producers, since both need skilled professional support.

Currently, the only international entity that offers specific training for FC personnel is the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) in the US (www.afci.org/afci-university). The AFCI offers several distance learning courses, in English as well as in Spanish, and is committed to providing film commissions with the tools they need to thrive in today’s competitive marketplace. The organization also sponsors the Cineposium, an annual training  forum that offers professional development seminars on film commission management and procedures.

To date, the main efforts to correct the lack of training programs for FC managers in Brazil have been made by REBRAFIC (www.rebrafic.net), the national film commissions association that aims to: correct the deficiency in the formation of many FC’s, to guarantee a minimum standard of quality of services provided to domestic and international producers,  to promote Brazil and all its regions as destinations for national and international audiovisual content, as well as to organize and make available information for the FC’s in all regions of the country . In the last two years, REBRAFIC has offered free, full-day workshops for FC’s during the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival.

At the initiative of REBRAFIC, the Latin American Training Center – LATC published last year, with the support of the Cesnik, Quintino and Salinas Law Firm, the first Guide for Film Commissions in Brazil. The guide offers, for the first time in Portuguese, and specifically for Brazil, basic information and recommendations on how to effectively establish and operate a film commission at the municipal or state level.

Aimed at a borad audience, including politicians, government officials, producers and film managers, the guide is appropriate both to design and plan the structure for creating a film commission, as well as to administer and improve existing FCs, wherever they may be . Divided into two sections, it is composed of ten chapters and six articles by national and international authorities on the subject. The Guide can be downloaded at no cost from the REBRAFIC website.

In recent meetings with the former Secretary of the Audiovisual Ministry of Culture, Mr. Alfredo Bertini, he manifested total support for the film commission sector in Brazil.  In a concrete demonstration of the MinC’s support, Bertini authorized the recording of film commission training videos at the Centro Técnico Audiovisual, CTAv / SAV / MINC, in Rio de Janeiro. The short training videos, which will be made available on YouTube, will be produced by REBRAFIC on key topics and processes of FC operations such as: service to producers, issuing permits, marketing and advertising for film commissions and political aspects.

In addition, based on their participation in the Film Commission Workshop at the last edition of the Rio International Film Festival, representatives of SEBRAE have shown an interest in supporting FC training and their relationship with film producers.

Brazilian authorities have already recognized the need for a well-structured and permanent program of standardized training of film commissions in various Brazilian cities and states, in order to support high-level professional training for FC’s, with certification and National and international recognition. We now await the actions and support needed to guarantee the growth and sustainability of the FC sector in the Brazilian audiovisual production chain.

(Translated from the original Portuguese – A verdadeira importância da capacitação das film commissions)

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