Sharing of Information

As a film commission office, you work with sensitive information on a regular basis that cannot be shared with anyone outside of your office or government entity. If you are a not for profit, this rule may even extend to your board. If a production company contacts you about the possibility of working in your area, you must keep everything confidential until you are told (preferably in writing) that you can do otherwise.

While this may seem like the most basic of rules for a film commission office, it is one of the easiest rules to break if you are not careful. It is very important that all of your staff, board, people you report to and other close stakeholders fully understand this rule and that you are managing their expectations about what you can and cannot share.

An example took place in a state in the US (that asked not to be named for obvious reasons.) For months, the film commission had managed to keep rumors at bay, and the press had not picked up on this very large budgeted movie looking to land in the state. A Mayor in one of the state’s cities caught wind of this and tweeted his followers, which was immediately picked up by the press. The studio was still in the midst of cast negotiations and this press leak caused major problems. The studio threatened to pull out of the state, furious that the confidentiality had been broken. While eventually the film did land in that state, after considerable damage control by the film commissioner, the trust was broken. And once trust is broken it can take years or may never be mended.

Another common problem is allowing the press to leak a movie or television show that is scouting your region. If the public then believes that this project is coming, when it goes to another jurisdiction, the overwhelming assessment is that you, the film commissioner, somehow lost the project. In reality, you never secured the production and as we all know, no film commission lands every project that scouts their region. This is an important lesson in “managing expectations” and is one that could even lose you your job.