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Voice Of The Crew - Since 2002

Los Angeles, California

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Post Myths intro

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By Carl Kozlowski
Steve Caplan has seen his share of unusual battles over the last five years, having helped commercial producers deal with runaway production, an actors’ strike, and the devastating economic effects of 9/11. But just when he thought he could take a breather, Caplan –the senior VP for external affairs at the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP)—had to help the industry deal with the threat of the SARS virus as it spread to Toronto, a major filming center for TV spots.
As commercial producers canceled productions, Caplan and his AICP cohorts worked quickly to calm the industry and help relocate as many shoots as possible to minimize job losses. Their efforts showed how banding together under an effective trade association can help producers in ways that go way beyond contract negotiations.
“In a time of global production, there are always going to be events that have an impact on production—around the world or, God forbid, at home,” Caplan explained. “The war had an effect on travel plans, as did 9/11, but at the end of the day, in a global economy producers make decisions on where to shoot based on cost. It’s one of the most important factors in determining where filming should occur.”
The AICP is currently celebrating its 30th year of representing over 250 U.S.-based commercial production companies and hundreds of other vendors and suppliers who depend on the industry for their livelihood. Working to maintain a positive environment for commercial production companies, the organization has chapters throughout the country that lobby all levels of government, negotiate union contracts and build relationships with ad agency clientele.
The rise in HD broadcast production has presented both challenges and opportunities for commercial production. Caplan believes that commercial producers will eventually catch up to their TV counterparts. “I can’t say right now it’s had a dramatic impact o the commercial industry, but there’s a high level of awareness about HD,” said Caplan. “As HD programming becomes more prevalent and more people can receive HD programming, producers will have to create commercials that will match. Right now, the audience is not big enough to support it, but over time there will be more demand for advertising that looks like broadcast.”
Looking back at the past decade of the local commercial production industry, Caplan recalls both the dramatic highs of the dot-com advertising boom and the attendant lows of that sector’s crash. Yet he is confident that a comeback is on the horizon, as American producers have learned not to give up or give in but to play the production game just as efficiently as their foreign competitors.
“We’ve found we have to do more with less money because some foreign production centers have burned us on that,” says Caplan. “But we also have the Film California First program, which was created back in 1999 and reimburses companies certain filming costs. We’re in this for the long haul, and business will strengthen again.”

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