Building Local Industry

In addition to creating a workforce, it’s important to assist in the support and development of home-grown filmmakers in your jurisdiction.

The benefits of developing a strong indigenous or local film industry have been widely touted. The affirmation of a people’s culture through film is an integral part of social, cultural and economic development and therefore it is important to the prosperity of any nation, state, province, region or even city. A local film industry gives voice to local and regional identities, to languages and cultures; it defines places and peoples (in their own image) and thereby impacts powerfully on people’s sense of belonging. A flourishing local film industry is able to nurture creative talent, promote social interaction and healing, and (if you’re really, really lucky) contribute to the local economy.

For film commissioners, however, the notion of building a local film industry is daunting. Making local films is really tough; there are no quick fix solutions to the complex set of problems that filmmakers face. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that filmmakers won’t be surprised, even indignant, that you can’t simply wave your magic wand and provide them with funding, distribution and sales.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are people all over the world whose actual job it is to invest in film product (be that script development, finished films, movies-still-in-production etc.). These are the professionals and these are the people with whom filmmakers should engage. Your job as a film commissioner is, in contrast, to assist local filmmakers to improve their own product so that it can be better received by those professionals. In other words, your primary role is to help filmmakers to help themselves.

The next few sections offer a few ideas of the kinds of things you can do to make sure people don’t leave your office empty-handed.