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The Creative Industries Forum Hosts the Apulia Film Commission

[Part of the Parallel Sessions in the Negev Congress  Main Event.]

Hosts: The Negev Development Authority. Adva Eshel Rabinovich, Director of the Negev Development Department at the Ministry for Development of the Galilee and Negev, opened the session.

Antonella Gaeta – President, the Apulia Film Commission Foundation.

Raffaella Delvecchio - Director of International Film and Television Programs, the Apulia Film Commission Foundation

Francesco Palumbo, Director of Regional Policies Promoting Knowledge and Talent

Antonio Agrosi – Project WEALTH Coordinator, Apulia Region

Creative Industries are all economic initiatives associated with art and cultural: dance, film, music, sculpture etc. Such initiatives can potentially be leveraged to induce regional economic development. The European Union and additional countries worldwide, have recognized the potential embodied in Creative Industries and the field is rapidly establishing itself as an important catalyst of economic growth.

The session was dedicated to in depth examination of the model adopted by the Apulia Film Commission, the region forming the "heel" of Italy's "boot".

Adva Eshel Rabinovich, The Negev Development Authority

Promoting the notion of the Negev as a "creative region". Throughout the Negev, one may find enclaves of creative talent and entrepreneurship. As the Negev prepares to absorb numerous young people, subsequent to IDF plans to relocate army bases to the region, we anticipate an increase in demand for such cultural activities. We are very interested in learning from and leveraging Apulia's experience.

Shirley Karavani, Shatil's Local Sustainable Development Program
The Local Sustainable Economic Development Program is an EU supported initiative which began a year and a half ago. Originally we did not plan to incorporate Creative Industry in the program. However, after learning of the impressive work being done by the Apulia Film Commission we decided to collaborate with the Negev Development Authority to develop a program adapted to local needs. The model adopted is defined by its holistic approach which incorporates businesses that would not ordinarily relate to creative industry, and by government involvement in its implementation and funding.

Yifat Neiman, Business Consultant to the Creative Development Forum
The Forum brings together 20 cultural leaders working in different artistic fields (music, theater, cinema, and dance). It strives to (a) connect between different artistic fields and Negev residents and to (b) develop an original "Negev Oriented" model of sustainable creative industry recognizing the regions unique character.

Antonella Gaeta – President, the Apulia Film Commission Foundation.
The Film Commission was established to leverage culture as a catalyst of economic development and to facilitate accessibility of professionals from both within and without Apulia. The Commission is a publicly funded foundation: 80% of its budget is provided by Apulia's local government and 20% by foundation members, who are predominantly municipalities and regional councils. The Commission was founded in 2007 through a €500,000 grant and by 2013 the total amount of funding provided reached more than €3,000,000. In 2013 we produced a record 50 film and television productions. The primary rationale supporting the Commission's work is that film improves the region's public image. The region's geomorphology is complex, characteristic of generic "Southern Europe" and one may find diverse landscapes: beaches, villages, agriculture, industry etc.

The Indian film "Housefull", which has recorded more than 4 million viewers, is a good example of how the movie industry can benefit the local economy. Parallel to the film's premiere we launched a tourism campaign named "Beautiful Apulia" in India. Since then, we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of Indian tourists visiting the region. Recently, Apulia's exotic natural landscape was chosen as a filming location for scenes of "The Bold and the Beautiful". Paul Haggis, who directed the movie "Crash", chose to shoot his new film in Apulia and a British musical and American horror film are also set to begin filming in the region this spring. We have also published a "Cinematic Tourist Guidebook" (also available as an iPad application) that suggests trips to local film sites.

Additional initiatives launched in conjunction with the film production program include:

• "Cineports" - Offices for foreign film companies that provide facilities such as screening rooms for visiting directors. When not used by foreign film companies, the Cineports serve as cultural centers and host visiting Italian filmmakers interested in presenting their work to local residents.
• A chain of cinemas screening quality films, over 51% of are Italian or European. Over 300,000 people visit these cinemas and they play an important role in promoting local films.
• Film Festivals – In Bari and a number of other cities.
• The Apulia Film House – A museum of film culture which targets the digital generation and allows young people to discover the culture of film and its history.

Raffaella Delvecchio - Director of International Productions
Apulia is located at the tip of the "Italian Heel". Its capital is Bari and the most beautiful city is Lecce. Four million people live in the region and most large businesses are located in Bari and Lecce.
The Commission was established in 2004 by an act of local legislation aimed at promoting all types of cultural activities. However, in light of the lack of active film creators in the region it only began activities in 2007. In addition to film we also invest in other local cultural activities, connecting work in fields such as: theatre, dance, music with international experts promoting similar work.
The commission aims to promote all visual media outlets (film, television, new media etc.), to promote local culture and activities but also to encourage foreign industries to invest in the region.
We are also considering promoting the Commission as a liaison between foreign producers and local filmmakers to ensure that new employment opportunities in the film industry are provided to the regions younger generation.

The Commission emphasizes developing local cultural initiatives such as: festivals, renovation of the local film center, a film library, and local centers examining film culture.
The Commission is a public authority. 80% of its budget is provided by the local government which also contributed a sum of €500,000 in our first year to kick start activities. The majority of the remaining 20% is provided by Commission members – municipalities, and regional councils - who make annual contributions per number of residents, which come to a sum of approximately One Million Euro. 32% of the budget is for administrative costs; 35% to audiovisual foundations (grants); 14% to manpower; 11% to publicity / marketing - production companies are contractually obligated to publicize the fact that the film was produced in Apulia; 8% other.

The Commission also supports communities that are not Commission members. Those that provide annual contributions are Board members and can contribute to decision making processes regarding planning future activities and films that will receive funding. Membership in the Commission is dependant first and foremost on the mayor and his dedication to the Commission's vision. The Commission's Board of Directors is composed of its members, president, and vice president who are from the second largest city in the region. There is also an executive director and two offices, an administrative office responsible for ensuring income and drafting funding proposals and an additional office open 24 hours a day to provide a response to film crews and PR firms.

What Do We Do? Services Provided Free of Charge:

• Scholarships provided by four film foundations.
• Identifying film sites.
• Information Center / Online Social Network connecting between relevant regional actors (production companies, professionals etc.)
• 700 professionals and 100 local companies
• Local bureaucratic procedures
• Cineports – Cultural centers incorporating offices, film theatres, production offices. Also provide facilities for social events.
• Online services: Social Networking, production site and guide
• Production offices open 24 hours a day for visiting producers
• Key values: efficiency, hospitality, accessibility and reliability.

Local Economy
Filmmaking was always popular in Apulia. In the past, film crews would be detached from the region and its inhabitants. They would come, shoot the film and immediately leave the region, usually after accruing debts to local residents. Today the Commission ensures that film crews are budgeted and pay for the services provided.

Assistance provided by locals varies. Low cost productions need professionals – lighting technicians, cameramen, sound experts, etc. 

We have witnessed a significant growth in this field. The more productions taking place in a specific region the more local professionals living there. Some went to school abroad and returned and some interned on film sets in the region.
The higher the film crew's budget the less a need for local production people is evident. However, high budget productions usually require additional assistance from local industries – hotels, hairdressers, cosmeticians, tailors etc. If they stay for extended periods they bring their families with them and may also come back on visits.

The number of local businesses providing their services in our production guide has increased significantly – catering companies providing only organic food, vintage car dealerships, production equipment retailers. Furthermore, as the number of businesses providing services to young people (decomposable diapers etc.) has increased, we can conclude that the number of young people living in the region has also grown.

We have not provided courses or trainings to local businesses. It is difficult to evaluate the direct impact such activities have on facilitating growth of small businesses but our activities have led to the growth of a new field of work – the creative sector.

The percent of the budget invested in Apulia compared to production costs: grew from 9% in 2011 to 25% in 2013. Since this is public money, we check the invoices to see if the productions fulfilled their original obligations and if the money ultimately reached its intended destination. If they do not invest the sums they had committed to we lower the scholarships granted.

Multiplier Effect – For every Euro that the Commission invests in production companies, 6 Euros are reinvested in the local community. Mostly through provision of services – accommodation, recreation, transportation, laundry services etc. This benefits sustainable development – reduced transportation costs.

The Commission operates four funds:

1. The Development Fund: Provided to local or international organizations. The ides is to develop stories based in the region. €15,000 so they can come, get an impression and the inspiration they need to tell the story.
2. The Local Fund: Provided only to Italian organizations. €300,000.
3. The International Fund: Targets international foreign production companies or Italian companies performing line ups Foreign companies are required to present a distribution line based on the principal that cinema can leverage the local tourist industry, in their countries of origin.
4. The Accommodation Fund: Covers local accommodation, living and transportation costs. Provided entirely for local companies so we ensure that the money stays in the region. The money is provided as a reimbursement for expenses made in the region. €150,000

The total sum of funding one may procure ranges between €375,000 and €475,000. That may not be much but it comes in addition to the services provided to filmmakers free of charge and discounts they enjoy in local businesses.

We also offer the following projects:
A summer workshop for screenwriters (The Apulia Express)
A training program teaching producers how to close business deals provided in the spring. ERDF provides 73% of the funding. This is funding provided to the entire region as it is considered underdeveloped. It is distributed as renewable grants made every seven years and is given to the entire region of Apulia. Some of it reaches the Commission.
Will the program always rely on EU funding or will it eventually be supported by local funding?
Even if we reach a higher level of development, we will always rely on European foundations. This is a specific example of the EU replacing the Government of Italy in light of its internal problems.

Who decides how much money is paid to each production company?
There is an internal committee on the Commission's Board of Directors. Proposed films are evaluated as part of a three step process: Administrative evaluation ensuring all necessary paperwork is submitted; film directors who evaluate the script – we do not fund porn or racist films, we do however accept films that are critical of Apulia and provide them all necessary services; We evaluate at least 60% of the committed production budget to ensure that the film will indeed be completed. We do this every month on a first come first serve basis. The "Promote Apulia" agency, promotes campaigns that connect tourist activities to creative industries.

* Members of the Creative Industries Forum: Dr. Uri Strizover, Development Consultant for Educational and Cultural Programs; Yifat Neiman, Consulting, Guidance and Development for People, Organizations and Communities; Vered Goshen, Director of Economic Development at the Negev Development Authority; Shiran Adi, Director of Tourism and Culture at the Negev Development Authority; Shirley Karavani, The Local Sustainable Economic Development Program, Shatil; Dikla Katzuni, Director of the Dimona Theatre; Ashchar Rinot, Director of the Ness Fund, JNF; Idan Avisar, Director of the Fringe Theatre; Mahmoud El-Amour, Director of the Occupational Center, Al-Mahbash Theatre; Suwheil Al-Debsan, Al-Mabash Theatre; Nuriel Shabat, Director of the Beer Sheva Youth Center; Danielle Shapira, Director of Bat Dor Beer Sheva and Kama – Dance Troupe; Yifat Ben Shushan – Doc for U - an independent initiative promoting cinema meeting groups; Yifat Hillel, Director of the Southern Region at the JDC Youth Centers; Yinnon Aharoni, Director of the Western Negev Cluster, Ziva Yellin, Curator of the Industrial Art Gallery, Be'eri; Eitan Pe'er, Sde Boker, Director of Tzlilim BaMidbar; Avishag Rager, The Negev Research Boutique.

The Session was held as part of the Main Event of the Negev Local Sustainable Economic Development ENPI-CBCMED Congress – December 2013.

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