AFCI classes keep film commissioners current


"The film commission world has matured," explains Mary Nelson, vp of the Association of Film Commissioners International's education and professional development program. "In the past 15 years, commission work has grown to involve economic-impact surveys, working with the legislature on incentive packages and marketing at a much more sophisticated level. It's a whole new world."

As author Eric Hoffer wrote: "In times of change, learners inherit the earth." With duties ranging from business development to marketing and filmmaking, few people in the cinema community see as much change -- and inherit as much from continued learning -- as film commissioners.

Recognizing this expansion, AFCI developed a curriculum of classes to help film commissioners, film commission staff and entertainment professionals acquire the varied information they need. Six classes are offered, which follow a three-tiered system.

The first-tier class, Film Commission Fundamentals, covers the basics of commission operations, including economic development, marketing, scouting and film incentive programs. AFCI offers the course online to reach as broad an audience as possible.

The second-tier course, Film Commission Professional, expands on Fundamentals and is geared toward people working in the film commission field. Like the four Master classes (see below), this intermediate class is taught in person at the Locations Trade Show, Cineposium International Conference, Berlin International Film Festival and other industry events throughout the year.

The final tier in AFCI's program is a collection of four specialized Master classes, each focusing on a different commission subtopic: marketing, economic development, leadership and filmmaking. People who complete all six classes and are associated with an AFCI member commission can become candidates for the Certified Film Commissioner Program.

This year's Locations Trade Show offers the second-tier Professional course, as well as Master classes on leadership and filmmaking. Enrollment is open to anyone interested who has completed the Fundamentals online course. Course costs range from $325-$475, with discounted rates for AFCI members. A small price to pay, Hoffer might suggest, to inherit the earth -- or as the case may be, a lucrative client.