An economic impact assessment is a valuable tool in promoting the value of the work that a film commission does and at the same time, provides an ideal vehicle to get the message out to business partners, community residents, elected officials and funding agencies. While there is no standard template for a report, the following should be included.
While it is the last thing to be completed, the executive summary is the most important element of the study to many people. With an extremely short attention span and busy lives, most media and elected officials want the quick answer in an easily digestible format. The executive summary provides such a tool. For a short report done locally, it would typically run one to two pages; a more extensive study could be many more pages. It will encompass in a very brief overview of all the elements of a report that are highlighted below.
Background on the Region
While this will not be newsworthy to your local film commission, keep in mind that the impact assessment report can also be used as a marketing tool for your organization. Briefly describe the level of recent film production, the location, and experiences of production companies by using short testimonials that appear throughout the document. An overview of the production involved and the scope could also be a part of this portion of the report.
Describe the principle reasons for undertaking such an impact assessment. These points could include everything from determining levels of tax revenue generated to the social impact of film production on a region. Be clear and concise.
The methodology section of the report should outline the steps taken, assumptions made and how the research was conducted. What kind of primary and secondary research was done? What sort of interviews were conducted, surveys completed, and documentation provided by the production company? Who was involved – was it the Commission alone or did a private consultant undertake the work? Was local industry a part of it as well?) If you have made assumptions, particularly about multipliers and the production itself, those should also be addressed in the overview.
The results of the study are now ready to be conveyed to the reader. They should be presented in a clear format, stating the key findings and then detailing the minutia of the exercise. Results should focus on direct and indirect impacts, should relate to specific benefactors of the impacts (the retail trade and tourism accommodation, for example) and the overall numbers. If you are choosing to calculate the total impact, the types of multipliers used should be explained and justified in the results. Charts and graphs are often useful in demonstrating the impacts in a concise manner.
Other benefits to the community can be included as well and can transform the report from a dry statistical economic analysis to a vibrant living document.
Some examples cited in the New Zealand study of the impacts of The Last Samurai included:
• An increase in sales by regional businesses from 40% to 800%. This was used by businesses to retire debt, expand operations, recruit more workers and put the project ahead of schedule;
• New contacts established which businesses were able to use in developing new markets overseas;
• Extensive media coverage from filming in the area resulting in dramatically increased profile of the region as both a tourism and business destination;
• Optimism was boosted in the region by the “buzz” provided by the film;
• The experience will help Taranaki to diversify its traditional industrial base as it now sees itself capable of handling large film productions.
The report should also provide some conclusions suggested by the study. This is the place to point out the growing film community you have, the impact on other sectors of the economy and the profile that filming now has. This is also an appropriate point to thank the many players that made the filming experience so beneficial to the area.