The reason why the State should now attribute a role to regions and their film commissions which is no longer purely ancillary but complementary, lies in the facts: faced with the decreasing amount of direct support provided by the State, Regional Funds are now growing in terms of both numbers and allocations. In Italy, it is nearly always the Film Commissions that manage the Funds and this is a good thing(even though it is a completely Italian characteristic), because in the rare cases when it does not occur, efficiency and transparency rapidly decrease.
This often means that the potential users – audiovisual producers – measure the professionalism of the Film Commissions according to the Fund’s financial allocation. And that is not a good thing.
This digression about Funds leads us to ask ourselves about the role of Film Commissions.
The very broad definition – agencies of regional attraction – encompasses different instruments through which this attractiveness is handled that vary according to the vocation the region has chosen for itself.
Not just the Funds, but above all the quantity and quality of the services offered make all the difference on the extremely disparate panorama of Italian film commissions which involves different legal figures (from Foundations to Cultural Associations), as well as the functions and services offered and the quality of the same.
The need to bring order to the disorganized growth of these bodies is, I believe, a sign of maturity,and although we do not have unanimity (there are those that believe new rules will suffocate the autonomy of the Film Commissions), this is the path that the Association is, at least officially, taking.
Currently there are very general rules, provided by the more authoritative AFCI (International Association of film commissioners), such as the compulsory connection with the public regional body and the free nature of the services offered (which is not always complied with) which, in any case, I do not think can be sufficient to enter into negotiations with central government.
I believe that the route leading to the ‘recognition’ of Film Commissions has to pass through the setting up of a self-regulatory code that, in addition to defining the regional sphere of the Film Commissions, which should coincide with that of the Regions, also contains the definition of the qualitative standards of the services provided.
It is a big task made more difficult because, by not relying on external prescriptions, it has to achieve shared choices and thus face and create visions which are different and often opposing. A task which would, however, result in an enormous qualitative leap not just for the association but also for the film commissions themselves, which would be placed in the position of being able to “run” within the comfort of a set of rules.
Basically, I think that we can envisage a new path for Film Commissions – just because they are, as producers often say, the only truly new feature to appear on the Italian audiovisual panorama in recent years: instead of invoking new laws, they can give themselves the rules to be complied with in order to belong to the association.
And they can face central government aiming for a form of recognition that does not involve sanctions for those who break the rules but rewards for those that respect them.
In this way, the Film Commissions that work well would be identified by a mark of quality, a label, (I have purposely not used the term “virtuous”, which has now become meaningless).
Only to them would the State award not just money but a series of equally quantifiable benefits. Which?
Here we need the imagination of the film commissioners.
For me, a possible example comes to mind: the “labeled” Film Commissions could guarantee producer-users rapid and cost free access to places – locations which fall within the jurisdiction of the Fine Arts regional board. Seeing as filming in these places has to be paid for, any film commission that is able to eliminate this cost would certainly be more attractive.
To conclude, this is intended to be a small but sincere contribution, respect- ing the figures and skills for which the Film Commissions are responsible. In other words I do not want to teach anyone a trade that is not my own. But I do want the spirit that has inspired these reflections to be accepted: I think we have to go back to being realistic, and to ask for the impossible.