Research appears to be preparing for a more organic relationship between central government and regions through the Film Commissions. What does the Association of Italian Film Commissions propose?
We would like to share some criteria for defining Film Commissions with the MiBACT (Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities): what they are, the characteristics they should have, but without asking for the legal recognition of the association which would compromise the agility and streamlining of the same. Above all, we want to find a way to safeguard the users, to place them in a position to identify what is and what is not a Film Commission.
But shouldn’t you define these standards internally?
In recent years, through self-training initiatives, coordination has led to a rise in the skills and services provided and has increased knowledge about good practice. A minimum common standard has been achieved and shared. The point is to
adopt a standard that regulates relations with third parties and has the strength to affirm itself.
But the differences remain. And in any case, from the point of view of the producers, the presence or absence of the Fund, and the relevant entity, certainly makes a difference.
This depends on the choice of the respective administrations.
We are near to being able to say that there are no regions which cannot offer a good response, efficient services.
We would all like to separate the standard part of the trade of the Film Commissions from the Funds.
Personally, I think that the Funds often constitute an element that drugs the market. I would be happy if all the FCs had a quite similar Cinema Fund, so that the producer’s choice could depend solely on the professionalism and requirements of the story. That, I realize, would be in an ideal world. In practice we have to find a balance.
A difficult balance because every territory, legitimately, cultivates its own ambitions.
It is good to cultivate ambitions but I believe that, at the same time, we have to be realists.
It is inconceivable that Italy can have audiovisual production districts in every region of the country. The heart of this industry is in Rome, everything is there; Milan has advertising and television production … it makes no sense for everyone to have their own little Cinecittà.
I think rather that each region should specialize in a particular field, looking for the same in its own history, its vocation.
Can you give me an example?
I can talk about my own Tuscany: here we cannot say, as for a region like Lazio, that audiovisuals are already a strategic resource for the region, because it is not true. In Tuscany, where the Cinema Fund uses resources from tourism, we aim to promote the territory; so, to be coherent, we privilege the filming of outdoor scenes as a requisite of assessment. But we can also recognize some regional vocations, such as, for example, the skills of the ICT field research in the Pisa area or the many handcraft skills found in Tuscany, to legitimately try to reposition the same in the audiovisual sphere.
But there are regions that try to favor the establishment of businesses, like Alto Adige.
Alto Adige is one of the Italian regions that works the most with other markets, in addition to Italy. There it makes sense for BLS to provide incentives for the location of technical companies.
There are also regions like Piedmont and Friuli Venezia Giulia where the growth of a production fabric is promoted, and a region like Liguria where the focus is on training.
Liguria is right to do that and I think that in each region we should work on professional training. The Film Commissions should demand creativity and talent.
Piedmont is reaping the rewards of a long and energetic process, a precursor with respect to other attempts and it has achieved some results in building sector businesses. Friuli Venezia Giuli looks to other countries, like BLS, and could be in a position to respond to some actual require- ments in the central-eastern European area.
The panorama is not uniform, but viable. Don’t you think too much realism could flatten demand?
None of us film commissioners wants to mournfully limit themselves to providing a reception desk.
By realism I mean: to be aware you need a strategic framework in which to move around. For this reason, occasions for national debate under the aegis of the MiBACT are sacrosanct: for an individual FC it can be difficult to face their own political decision-maker alone and encourage them to give up a dream they believe in good faith to be achievable.
Are you thinking of a control booth under the wing of the MiBACT?
Let’s call it a working group which includes State, Regions, producers and film commissions, the aim of which is to understand the best direction to take and share a strategic plan for the next 5 years. The Ministry should not let itself be pulled by one sector or another, but should encourage a debate whose objective is harmonious development, which is what it looks as if l they are doing.
But this “choral approach” could weaken the competitive stimulus
Competitiveness is a great thing but for each one to go their own way, without an organic plan, would be a waste of energy and resources. I’ll give what might be a virtuous example: the Fondazione Sardegna Film Commission is working on the topic of environmental sus- tainability in the cinema as part of a larger regional project.
It is drawing up a protocol of good practice, pioneering work which will be useful to eve- ryone. It will, for example, be easier to publish a green guide, a sort of yellow pages with suppliers of environmentally sustainable materials. Env
ironmental sustainability also means innovating the production process and finding new trades.
To conclude, let’s go back to the producers: Francesca Cima of Indigo Film said at a recent conference that the role of Film Commissions should increasingly consist of scouting in the regions, becoming collectors of private investments. Simply: to go from giving money to indicating where to get it.
I fully agree. Right now I am visiting companies in the region, starting with those with the broadest shoulders. In the near future I would like to be able to pick up the ‘phone and talk to them safe in the knowledge that they already know about mechanisms such as tax credit and product placement. I would like to be able to offer producers a rational list of businesses in the region that are interested in evaluating investments in the audiovisual sector.
The sphere of activity of the Film Commissions is becoming increasingly wider
It certainly is. In conclusion I would like to add that with our knowledge of the region we are also able to help the Italian system present itself better abroad. That means interacting, for example, with the ICE (Italian Foreign Trade Commission) to prepare promotional missions.