Film Comissions Highlight California Locations/Crew
It was not surprising to see members of the California Film Commission in attendance at the recent California On Location Awards, or COLAs. The key sponsor of the event, FLICS, or Film Liaisons in California Statewide, may be less familiar to individuals outside of location scouting, but their role in the evening’s program and retaining productions in California is exceedingly important.
Recently 411 Publications spoke with Jerry Day, director of Tuolumne County Film Commission and senior member of FLICS to discuss the organization and their role in California film production.
411 Publishing: What is the history of FLICS? How long has this organization been around?
Jerry Day: FLICS was organized five years ago as of this winter. It’s a coalition of film commissions throughout the state. There are currently 42 members. The term FLICS goes back quite a bit further. FLICS was the acronym utilized by the California Film Commission to refer to all of the film commissions within the state that the California Film Commission designated as film offices. About six years ago, we decided that we needed to form our own coalition and co-opted the name. We created our own non-profit membership organization, and the reason we did this was really three fold.
First of all we wanted to formulize our own network in the state to speak directly to each other and collaborate. Before that, people were going through the California Film Commission. The ultimate goal of the whole organization is “keep filming in California.” I’d like to have people film in Tuolumne County, but if I don’t have what they need in Tuolumne County, I’m going to refer them to somebody else in California.
We also do joint marketing: we pool our funds and we market at different events and at tradeshows and in publications such as LA 411 to get the message out about FLICS and how the organization is trying to keep the filming in the state.
The other very important reason that we came together was to create our own standards and level of performance. We found that some film offices in the state were well financed, would handle permits and knew their area well. Other film offices were comprised of somebody answering the phone, and in their community, it really didn’t improve their situation much. We wanted to have a level of standards so that if someone had the name FLICS, then a production company or a location professional could have confidence in the name of that film office.
The FLICS organization meets quarterly, and we have different events at each of our quarterly meetings. Our winter meeting started about three years ago with the California Film Commission. It is a California-only event. We invite California location experts to an evening function where we’re able to show off our locations to them exclusively,
We have an event in April to coincide with the California Locations Tradeshow in Santa Monica. Additionally, we’ve been sharing some booth space with the California Film Commission at the tradeshow for a concentrated California area, instead of having members split all over the place.
Our summer meeting is very important. That’s our educational summit, where we have a series of classes, and host guest speakers on topics that are very important to us. This summer our seminars included one on insurance and one on web 2.0, or social networking.
And our fall event is the COLA Awards. That event pre-dates the FLICS organization. We’re really proud of that show; we’re able to honor location professionals and the state, local, and federal employees that have really helped us out in our community. We feel this strengthens the bounds between us and the location and production houses.
411: How did you come to obtain the COLA awards?
JD: The COLA Awards, I believe, began with Sheri Davis from the Inland Empire Film Commission (also a COLA member.) She had created the event to keep filming here in California. She eventually opened the event to the other film commissions, so the other film commissions could financially support it and gain access to the event.
411: How can people find you, and obtain information about FLICS?
People may visit our website, www.filmcalifornia.com. Since we’re a coalition, we don’t have a main office. One of the things that is very useful to the California film community, and I wish more people would utilize, is they can submit a location request, and then they’ll distribute it to all of the film offices through out the state, not just the FLICS members. So, it’s a great recourse fore all the people throughout the state. We do keep very strong bonds with the California Film Commission, and try to collaborate whenever we can with them.
411: The California Film Office has substantial location directory accessible through their website. Does FLICS piggyback off that, or do you have your own directory of locations?
JD: That’s an interesting question. The California Film Commission always had a location library, a data base, however they recently updated to new software. People have found that the new software is a lot easier to use. We’ve all been encouraged by the California Film Commission to update our photos and information on that site. In the interim, over the years most of the film offices have developed production databases on their own sites. You can access them through the Film California siteby alphabetical listings or a state map, and that will take you to that film office.
411: What is one of the ways that FLICS is trying to prevent runaway productions in California?
JD: Making connections is very important. One event that I neglected to mention is the California Film Commission event. They hold a producer’s breakfast in April. We feel that the locations community is aware of us through our COLA event, the California Only show, and through our marketing, but a lot of producers that will not go to the Locations Trade Show will come to the breakfast. For several years in a row we’ve conducted an activity that’s similar to speed dating: while attendees were eating breakfast, the film commissioners will sit with them and every five minutes they move to another table and give their pitch. The other thing we’ve been involved with is lobbying in Sacramento for a tax incentive. I’ve been doing this for six years now; lobbying and encouraging and educating. For those who can’t lobby, we encourage educating the representatives about the need for a tax incentive.
411: Is FLICS doing national outreach to focus attention on what California has to offer?
JD: Not at this point. We’d like to, it’s really a question of resources for us. We keep our membership dues quite low, and currently, we’re pretty much maxing out our resources.
411: During FLICS five years in existence, what are some of the more positive things you’ve seen take place since developing the coalition?
JD: I’ve seen some collaborative efforts where different films commissions who don’t have all the locations needed for a shoot have refered location managers to other districts that have the locations their area lacks. I remember this working out really well for “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Five different jurastictions were used for that shoot. The film commissioners were willing to say "I don’t have that but I know someone that does," as well as "I don’t have the facilities and crew base, but two hours away they do." And by doing this, they have been able to keep films from going elsewhere by recommending the resourses that keep them in California.
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