In an attempt to simplify the research process for an economic impact assessment, the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) has developed a template (below) to identify how to report production expenditures and thereby set the table for an accurate reporting of the economic impacts. The methodology involved includes primary and secondary sources.
Collecting Information for Expenditure Report
Based on the AFCI template, let’s examine information you may need to collect. If the production company has already provided you with this information, make use of it in your reporting!
The number of crew members is easily determined and will almost always be provided. The production company will also provide a total salary figure for crew members living in your jurisdiction. If not, you can estimate this amount by using some simple calculations. If it is a union shoot, rates of pay are readily published or available from the union office in your jurisdiction. Calculate the hourly wages, the number of crew members, and the average number of hours for how many days. The payroll for extras can be calculated using similar methods. The extras casting office can probably assist you in determining the total number of extras and the number of days they worked and if possible the aggregate payroll for all extras over all days of the production.
It is important in your assessment to focus on the local component of the acting core. Most of the salary paid to well-known film stars will not likely re-circulate in your community unless goods and service are purchased. Check with your local actors’ guild or union to see how many local actors were involved and what pay scales were involved.
Determine where the cast and crew stayed and how many room nights they used. Call your local hotel management to seek input on the cost of rooms per night. If it is not provided, most jurisdictions provide access to average room rates per night and occupancy levels. A value can be calculated and multiplied by the number of nights the production is in the community. In jurisdictions that have on-going productions, hoteliers are becoming savvy about being a “film friendly hotel” and as part of this, they may provide you with the total aggregate figure of spend on that production. The pitch is: the more data we have, the more we can communicate the value of this industry to our stakeholders, the more we can promote our regions, and the more production we are likely to have coming our way.
Again, speak with the owners or source of the vehicles. Calculate an average daily expenditure. As above, some major car rental companies now have a “film” manager who is actively engaged with getting more movie business, and may be willing to share aggregate data per production and/or per year with you.
Location and Permit Fees
Some jurisdictions require filming permits and these are a good source of production details. If your office is not generating the permits, they are often a matter of public record and can often be accessed.
Check with the real estate community on what is typically garnered in commercial and industrial locations. If your Commission has an inventory of sites, or if there is a studio in the community some rates should be readily available. Location managers (for shooting locations and warehouse facilities) and production coordinators (for the rental of office space) usually have this data. Note: data being shared with you will almost always have to be approved at the production manager level, if not producer or studio level. It is proprietary information and department heads cannot share information without prior approval.
Sometimes this will be included in leasing fees that also include taxes, utilities, and maintenance.
If sizable sets are being built, there will probably be large amounts of lumber, paint, plaster, construction supplies, fork lifts, condors, etc. bought or rented and you may want to check with local suppliers if sets are being built to see what has been provided.
Trying to assess external purchases can be difficult. One economic method utilized is to ask your tourism representative what the average amount is spent by a tourist in your jurisdiction. You can then apply that figure, or a percentage of it, to the number of people who are working on the film.
The starting point for any assessment should be the production company itself. The company may be willing to share the total expenditure in your community. If this is not the case, there are a number of ways to proceed. Using the AFCI Expenditure Report, identify the key expenditure areas and how you might try to calculate the costs.