AFCI Insights – August 9, 2021

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11 months ago
YOUR WEEKLY DIGEST OF FILM COMMISSION NEWS, ISSUES AND TRENDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Reminder:
AFCI’s COVID-19 Global Production Alert
The Global Production Alert section on AFCI’s website provides the industry with clear and accurate information about COVID-19-related policies in production locales (cities, states/provinces and countries) worldwide. It also helps film offices prevent the spread of misinformation and confusion.

Please complete (or update) our very brief survey HERE to ensure your film office is included. We will post your information (unedited) on our website. If you don’t have much information to provide at the moment, at least submit links to your relevant government websites (e.g., immigration and health departments) that offer information about key closures and restrictions.
AFCI MEMBER NEWS
Alberta Adds More Incentives to Lure Productions to Canada
Variety
“Alberta has arrived,” Luke Azevedo, commissioner for Film, Television and Creative Industries of Calgary Economic Development, tells Variety. The removal of the $10 million-per-project cap on March 26 is a game-changer for the region, making Alberta nationally and globally competitive in the film and TV marketplace. The Film and Television Tax Credit (FTTC) currently sits at 22%, offering a refundable Alberta tax credit certificate on eligible goods, services and labor costs to corporations that produce films, television series and other eligible screen-based productions in the province.
COVID-19/PRODUCTION RESTART
Los Angeles Film Production Rebounds to Pre-Pandemic Levels
Variety
Film production in Los Angeles rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in the second quarter of 2021, according to permit data from FilmLA. The film office recorded 9,791 shoot days from April to June of 2021 — the highest total since the last quarter of 2019 and higher than the average level for all of 2019. The rebound coincided with California’s statewide “reopening” in June, though COVID cases have since spiked again with the fast spread of the delta variant.
STUDIOS & INFRASTRUCTURE
California’s Sunset Studios Expanding to UK’s Hertfordshire with $1B Film & TV Facility
Deadline
Institutional investment firm Blackstone and real estate outfit Hudson Pacific Properties are planning a $1B film and TV studio development in the UK’s Hertfordshire. The project is an expansion of the companies’ existing facility, California’s Sunset Studios. The partners have purchased a 91-acre site, 17 miles north of central London, through a joint venture for $120M. The build, which is subject to planning permission, is expected to be large enough to create 4,500 permanent jobs and inject £300M ($420M) into the local economy.
UK’s Largest Virtual Production Studio Opens in West London
KFTV
The UK’s largest independent Virtual Production (VP) facility, MARS VolumeTM, has opened in London, providing a “technology sandpit” for creative content producers. MARS also aims to become a centre of excellence for research and development into VP technologies. The facility combines state-of-the-art video game engines, camera-tracking technology, powerful graphics-servers and LED screens. In contrast to a green-screen production, where virtual backgrounds are composed during a long period of post-production, the 3D environments on MARS are created in advance of the shoot, then live-rendered from the camera perspective and mapped onto LED screens – all captured directly on camera.
Walt Disney Animation Opens New Vancouver Studio for Long-Form Series Production
Variety
Walt Disney Animation Studios is opening a new production facility in Vancouver, British Columbia, as it ramps up its streaming offerings. Focusing on long-form series like the upcoming musical revisiting of “Moana,” the studio will recruit new talent for its feature-quality slate and special projects meant exclusively for Disney Plus. Back in Burbank, the flagship animation studio will expand its over 900 employees and remain the exclusive home for film projects.
LOCATIONS
Netflix and SpaceX Show How Streaming Space Tourism is the New Reality TV
Vox
When SpaceX launches its first all-civilian crew into space later this fall and takes a multi-day trip circling the Earth, humanity can follow along online thanks to an exclusive documentary deal Netflix sealed with Elon Musk’s private space company. The first two installments of the five-episode miniseries, Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space, will debut on the streaming platform September 6.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Amazon Studios Hires Laine Kline to Head Local-Language Production
Screen Daily
Amazon Studios has scored a coup and hired the former head of Sony’s local-language production business Laine Kline as head of production, local Originals. Kline will oversee physical production of the streaming platform’s global slate of original local-language scripted series and film productions. He reports to Tim Clawson, worldwide head of production and post, Amazon Studios. Kline most recently served as EVP at Sony Pictures International Productions (SPIP) after joining the company in 2015 as head of business affairs.
AWARDS & FESTIVALS
Sundance Film Festival Will Require Vaccinations for In-Person Event
Variety
Sundance Film Festival will return to in-person screenings in 2022, while also allowing people to access the independent movies it highlights digitally. The new hybrid approach comes as many premiere film festivals are reimagining the way they curate and share movies during the pandemic era. In addition, Sundance will require all participants attending the mountain-top gathering to be fully vaccinated.

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