Annual locations confab scouts for room to grow

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There is a certain amount of irony that the Association of Film Commissioners International would have a location problem.

The AFCI has only itself to blame. It's just too darn successful.

For the past eight years, the trade show has been held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. It moved there after its venues in downtown Los Angeles proved too small. With the show growing every year thanks to the increasing global nature of film coupled with the incentive craze, now even the Santa Monica location is a tight squeeze.

In three weeks, the 23rd annual AFCI Locations Trade Show 2008 will take place in Santa Monica, but it knows it needs a bigger venue for next year's event.

"We really need a big venue to cope with demand, but finding a suitable venue and finding a suitable location has not been easy," AFCI president Robin James said as he prepared to leave his native Australia for the show. "We need a larger facility, and there is no large facility on the horizon."

The AFCI has been focusing on programs aimed at providing better service for its members and clients. At last year's show, the organization launched the first phase of its global initiatives, unveiling among other things master classes and a certification program. This year, it is expanding its master classes and offering new seminars.

One likely highlight will be the seminar titled "Greasing Palms on Location: What You Need to Know About the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,'' designed to inform commissioners of the legislation governing companies operating outside the U.S., and similar laws in other Western countries.

"This is uncharted territory for most film commissioners, that's for sure, and they need to know how this act works and what the implications are for them," James said. "There are cultural practices — that's a euphemism for bribery — in some countries which are specifically prohibited by this act."

The AFCI also will unveil a logo at the trade show, one James said is meant to reflect a modern and sleek global sensibility.

"Last year was the development phase," he said. "Now we have been in the implementation phase."
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