The role of Film Commissions

The role of Film Commissions

Film locations are more than just sets, they add depth and authenticity to the story on screen while at the same time inviting viewers to explore real destinations and experience their own adventure.

It is no coincidence that all the scenes that appear in films, television or any other type of audiovisual product have been filmed in specific places and countries. In fact, film and tourism are two complementary industries that Film Commissions are in charge of merging.

In this article we will discuss what Film Commissions are, what they do and what their work methodology is.

What is a Film Commission?

A Film Commission is a non-profit governmental or non-governmental organization that aims to encourage and support film production in a country or region.

In other words, they are in charge of turning a specific place into a suitable filming location  for any type of audiovisual product, including series, films, commercials, video clips, etc.

What are the origins of the Film Commission?

These organizations appeared in the 1940s in the United States. At the beginning, their objective was to propose locations to film directors that could potentially be alternatives to the classic Hollywood sets. However, it was not until the 1960s that they began to take off.

Currently, Film Commissions are organized in the Association of Film Commissioners International [AFCI] and the European Film Commissions Network [EUFCN], created in Berlin in 2005, which includes around 100 offices from 30 countries. 

In Spain, the first Film Commissions were created in the 1990s, specifically in Barcelona, Andalusia and the Canary Islands. Ever since then, there have been many initiatives by communities and municipalities to create their own offices.

In 2001 the Spain Film Commission was created, which includes most of the existing offices and is the country’s leading filming destination. It coordinates all the efforts of a network of 17 Film Commissions and Film Offices distributed throughout Spain.

Functions of the Spain Film Commission

The Spain Film Commission actively collaborates with the Government of Spain, territorial institutions and film production companies to consolidate audiovisual activity. As Professor Martínez Hermida points out, it is “selling the territory to the industry and informing about its values”.

In addition, this organization has other functions, among which the following stand out:

  • Offer financing and help filmmakers produce high quality films.
  • Provide information to production companies on current territorial legislation.
  • Putting producers in contact with film companies and specialized technicians.
  • Collaborate with film festivals and other events to promote Spanish cinema worldwide.
  • To be aware of changes in the film sector in order to constantly update its organization, analyzing data and obtaining statistics.

The role of the Film Commission in film tourism

It is evident that there is a natural connection between tourism and the film industry because the infrastructures required to shoot a series or film are closely related to touristic infrastructures. In the words of Carlos García Carballo, “dreams, reality, imagination and evasion are aspects that have united cinema and tourism since their origins”.

Screen/film tourism is a fairly recent phenomenon that occurs when a tourist visits a destination or tourist attraction as a result of having previously seen it in a film or series. Carlos Rosado, president of the Spain Film Commission, says that 80 million people worldwide have chosen their vacation destination based on what they have seen in films.

The mission of a Film Commission is to promote not only the technical and human resources for filming in a locality, but also the landscapes, monuments, climate of the place and the capacity of the population to receive film crews. In this regard, it should be emphasized that the proper management of a filming office provides benefits for both the film and tourism industries.

How does the Film Commission work and how does it develop its work?

In order to promote a territory, each film office carries out several preliminary actions.

  1. The first step is to create a catalog of locations. To do this, a well-documented search must be carried out and the desired locations photographed. For example, among the locations offered by Spain in its catalog are mountains, deserts, forests, dunes, rivers and lakes, more than 8,000 km of coastline in three different seas, 3,000 beaches, natural parks, tropical areas, plains and plateaus (Source: Localizaciones Spain Film Commission).
  2. The second task of the Film Commissions is to make this catalog known through dissemination strategies. According to a report by Zer (Revistas de Estudios de Comunicación), “the website is the most versatile and effective instrument for publicizing the activities of a film office”.
  3. The third action is the creation of a directory of specialized services for the film industry. The FC is in charge of putting production companies in contact with all the auxiliary companies providing logistics, accommodation, catering and transportation services, among others.
  4. Fourthly, the Film Commission has the role of intermediary between the production company and public institutions. Among the services offered, the permit management (for filming in public and private buildings), administrative procedures (visas) and authorizations (for occupation of public space, traffic cuts, alteration of urban furniture) stand out. This is a way of speeding up bureaucratic procedures for film companies.
  5. In addition to the implementation of these public relations techniques, the filming office carries out an important communication strategy through reports and press releases, as well as presence in conventional media and social networks. 

On the other hand, film offices must regularly schedule promotional activities at trade fairs and international events. Recently, their participation in Fitur 2023 stands out.

As mentioned before, the audiovisual product produced in a region is an enormous advertising weapon, and its promotion is one of the most effective ways of marketing a tourist destination.

Paloma Renedo

Social Media Team

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