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June 29, 2012 - Entertainment / Movies

Mike H Shields
AFCI Locations Show,
LA Convention Center June 15-16th, 2012

In filmmaking as well as real estate, the three most important things are: location, location, location. It's with no surprise that the various and sundry film commissions showed to the AFCI Locations Show, praising and proselytizing the wonders and wiles of the various states and territories in the union. Other countries take part as well. France is always a favorite, however, I'm not sure I have the need to shoot a movie there just to go and say, "I've been in Paris!"

As an independent producer myself, the most important thing is get the best movie for the least amount, and that's where various tax incentives come in. Alberta, of Canada fame, claims it has all types of locations, except for the ocean. Probably because it's landlocked. The guy behind the counter mentioned he knew Mike Shields when I handed him my card. I assured him that he didn't, and we had a good laugh.

Texas has no state tax, and that seemed to be enough of an incentive to film there. You can't go wrong, especially with Dallas coming back to air on TNT. Say what you want about the quality of the show, but it looks beautiful on the small screen.

My home state of California, while enticing, doesn't truly have the ability to let me make a movie for my goal of less than $5 million. I could make a movie for that, however, no one you've ever heard of would be in it, and as a result, you'd never hear about it either.

While the city of Detroit is on the edge of bankruptcy, the state of Michigan continues to offer a whopping 42% tax credit if you film there. And that's not even the best one offered this time around. Alaska offered coffee. Iceland offered Iceland water. Allegedly the purest on the planet, and as I was parched in the air conditioned West Hall, I took two. Iceland is interesting as it substituted for China of Batman Begins fame and they made sure you knew about it.

I'm doing this from memory, so forgive me if I don't mention your state. I did manage to hit every booth, even Virginia. The best peanuts and chocolates for the sixth year in a row; the only state offering peanuts, as Georgia was giving away a chocolate confection called a turtle. While tasty, I have to assume that it could use a better name.

Now the freebies and swag they give away are a tradeoff for letting them talk to you about all the wonders in their state. DVDs and flash drives abound with information that you can take home with you, therefore, it isn't necessary to talk to anyone if you'd rather move onto the next booth. I did this at Kentucky, and the aforementioned France. If I can figure out how to move Diamond is a Girl's Best Friend (my award winning screenplay) to Kentucky, I may just take them up on their offer.

Several states claim to have Los Angeles circa 1939, but I'd really need a tour to make sure. Unfortunately, they stop short of flying independent producers to the various locales, although the fine folks at Limoneira Ranch will give you a tour of their facilities if you show up on their doorstep unannounced.

I understand this report sounds like an episode of California Gold, however I attend these events not only for the free flash drives being wantonly handed out, but to get inspired and motivated to achieve my somewhat unique vision on the big screen.

Megabus.com had the best incentive of all: use their bus in a movie (product placement) and they'll give you free use of their bus in return during the length of your shoot. The magician in me immediately came up with 3 different ways to make a Megabus disappear.

I'd buy that for a dollar ;)

You can find Mike on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn if you know where to look, although I'd check Redondo Beach first....

Keywords: location, convention, tax incentive, film, tour, state, producer, director, AFCI, Hollywood, movie, filmmaking
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