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Observer at Large

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It’s not news that motion picture and other screen-based productionsare a global industry. But what might be news are all the efforts ofother countries and many US states to encourage production—and not justthe ones that garner the most attention.For the last two years I have been scouring the web and other sourcesfor information about public investments in production. These take theform of production incentives, subsidies to spur local production,training programs, and infrastructure. Over the coming months I willexplore some of these initiatives in this space. My goal is to inform,serving as another set of eyes and ears on matters that affect yourwork and your future.I will also share with you the results of research undertaken ordiscovered by The Entertainment Economy Institute (EEI), which Ifounded as an independent research institute a little over two yearsago. We are focused on entertainment and related industry employment aswell as the education and training of current and future employees.It used to be that states and countries attracted production byproviding great locations, cooperative local governments, and lowercosts. Now many of them are spending public funds to create and enhancetheir local crew base.Over the summer I met with Dinah Caine, CEO and founder of Skillset, ather headquarters in London. Skillset is the most robust, well-developedand funded program I have seen thus far. They serve as the SectorSkills Council for the audiovisual industries in the UK, which includebroadcast, film, video, interactive media and photo imaging. Jointlyfunded by industry and government, they describe their job as makingsure that the UK audiovisual industries have the right people, with theright skills, in the right place, at the right time.In April 2004, the UK Film Council delegated its training function anda proportion of its National Lottery grant to Skillset to invest infilm-specific training. This amounts to £7 million ($13.2 million) peryear for at least three years. The industry also contributesapproximately £1 million ($1.88 million) through a voluntary levy onfilm production in the UK. This levy is expected to become mandatorynext year.Freelance workers can receive grants of up to £500 ($939) for healthand safety training, as well as subsidized training, with 70-80%discounts. A new program offers free training for individuals who havebeen employed at least one day and less than one year at a small ormedium-sized production company. Funding for the £1600 ($3,000)per-student program comes from the European Social Fund, Pan-LondonLearning and Skills Council and the participating training providers.Skillset has a large staff—a total of 50. (In comparison, TheCalifornia Film Commission has seven.) They have offices in London,Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Southampton,Manchester and Leeds.The UK is not the only country focusing on the workforce and trainingneeds of its film and related industries. Several other countries andother states are also investing in their human capital. For example,California provides subsidized training to employees under the auspicesof the California Employment Training Panel. Funded by a tax onCalifornia’s employers, ETP has provided over $40 million over the last10 years to provide training 22,000 industry workers. In addition, manyof the unions and guilds provide training for their members.It has often been said that every time a production crew goes out oftown they train their replacements. Now, many of those locations havepublic funds to finish the job. NEWSCLIPS DIGESTSouth Carolina: Incentives Spark Production Uptick Since SouthCarolina’s incentives were passed on July 1, 2006, five motion picturesand one TV pilot have announced plans to film in the Palmetto State.Indications are that production is spending more in the state thanbefore the incentives were in place—an average of 70% compared with33-50%. Source: State.com (South Carolina), Jeff MonksIran: Animation Foundation to Be Set UpA cinematic foundation for animation will be established with the aimof supporting and directing the animation industry. A member of theCenter for Developing Iranian Animation, Hossein Ziaei said that theproject aims to facilitate industrialization of the sector as well asmake improvements to keep up with international standards.Source: IranMania.comPalm Springs: Paper Blames Calif. Legislature for Loss of ProductionThe TV pilot Hidden Palms left Palm Springs for Arizona after shootingnine days in the Coachella Valley and leaving behind an estimated$700,000. An editorial in the Desert Sun blames the CaliforniaLegislature for not enacting the production incentives in Assembly Bill777, which died this summer.Source: DesertSun.comNew York: Made in NY PA Program Starts 5th SeasonThe “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program, which wasdeveloped by New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre andBroadcasting in conjunction with Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, beginsits 5th season in February. Funding comes from a variety of private andpublic sources. The program is free to participants and runs full timefor four weeks. Employers can use it to find qualified PAs.Source: City of New York Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre andBroadcastingIf you would like to be added to my mailing lists, please email me [email protected]. I welcome comments and suggestions forfuture columns. You will find a number of studies about the industry atwww.entertainmentecon.org.

Written by Kathleen Milnes

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