The Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) today announced the appointment of Jaclyn Philpott to lead the organization in the newly created role of Executive Director. Her official start date is Jan. 3, 2023.
When Philpott takes the helm of AFCI, she will focus on growing what is already the most geographically and culturally diverse membership roster in the organization’s nearly 50-year history. A key focus will be helping film commissions work with government policymakers to recognize the positive impact a vibrant screen sector has on regional economic and cultural development, job creation and tourism. Her other immediate goals include expanding education and diversity awareness to empower AFCI members to create effective programs in their regions.
Philpott’s appointment as Executive Director follows an extensive worldwide search that began in July and included more than 120 candidates.
“We have selected an accomplished professional with the skills and global experience needed to lead AFCI to success,” said Bas van der Ree, AFCI Board Chair and Netherlands Film Commissioner. “Jaclyn will collaborate with our global members, production industry leaders and government policymakers to make AFCI an even more valued resource.”
Michael Walbrecht, AFCI Advisory Board Member and Warner Bros. Discovery VP of Public Affairs, added, “After a successful search that included candidates from around the globe, I look forward to Jaclyn bringing a new strategic direction that will serve AFCI well over the next decade. Productions rely on well-trained film commissions, and AFCI is at the forefront of ensuring commissions are prepared to handle projects — both large and small — in their jurisdictions.”
Philpott will relocate to Los Angeles from Auckland, New Zealand. Most recently, she worked with New Zealand’s largest economic and cultural development agency — Tātaki Auckland Unlimited — to co-create and produce the Auckland’s Future, Now economic development conference focused on the impact of COVID-19 and expanding collaboration between private and public sectors. She also developed business programs for the Tripartite Economic Alliance (linking Auckland, Los Angeles and Guangzhou, China), the 36th Americas Cup and the World Masters Games.
Other large-scale projects included developing the award-winning Invest Auckland website and marketing/PR campaigns for Screen Auckland’s involvement at the Toronto International Film Festival and Techweek New Zealand. She also led ongoing marketing efforts for Screen Auckland and worked with regional film offices across New Zealand.
Additional career highlights include leading the electric vehicle (EV) program launch for Meridian Energy (New Zealands largest electricity generator), serving as general manager of Christchurch-based retail/hospitality/tourism management firm Element 17 and producing the Dig My Idea – Māori Innovation Challenge program for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Earlier in her career, Philpott gained extensive media and marketing experience working with Estee Lauder in London and Ashville Media Group (Ireland’s largest publishing house and events producer). She earned an MBA from the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) with a specialization in management and growth strategies.
The AFCI selection committee included Board Chair van der Ree and Board Members Donne Dawson (1st Vice Chair and Hawaii State Film Commissioner), Sorrel Geddes (Secretary of the Board and SVP of US Production & Events for the British Film Commission), and Erin Stam (Board Member and EVP of International Production for AusFilm). After the committee met with the top three candidates in early November, the candidates underwent a series of interviews with AFCI Advisory Board members including Warner Bros. Discovery’s Walbrecht, Jay Roewe (Senior Vice President of Production Planning and Incentives at HBO/HBO Max/Warner Media) and Carol Trussell (Head of Production at Apple TV+). The five-month recruitment process concluded when the full AFCI Board of Directors selected Philpott unanimously to lead the organization.
“I am honored to be selected as AFCI’s new Executive Director and excited for the opportunity to work closely with our members across the world to build on the accomplishments of those who came before me,” Philpott said. “The screen sector is at a turning point in history, and I see significant opportunities for growth and collaboration.”
She added, “There is a Māori whakataukī (proverb) that states, ‘He Waka Eke Noa,’ which translates into: We are all in this together. We rise together, fall together, work together and keep going together.”