Say What? We have questions. KJ has answers

Kevin Jennings at Sundance 2016Photo: Scott McDermott

Kevin Jennings at Sundance 2016
Photo: Scott McDermott

Kevin ‘KJ’ Jennings heads Film Otago Southland, and was recently elected Chair of the worldwide film commissioners organisation, the AFCI.

What are the benefits for Film Otago Southland, and other NZ regions, of your new role as chair of the AFCI?
It is really an extension of my previous involvement with the AFCI, I love the organization. It is the only organization that provides focused education for film commissioners, it’s where we learn to do what we do and there’s nothing else like it. Over the past nine years on my way to becoming a certified film commissioner I had the opportunity to learn a variety of skills that are uniquely relevant to our user group. I’m hoping that the new role will continue to build on these opportunities and allow me to continue to learn.

The AFCI is the global resource for industry and film commissions. My goal as chairman is to further its reach and relevance to the film industry and AFCI membership (over 300 film commissions around the world).

That said, there are residual benefits that come with the relationships and knowledge I gain from my interactions with other film commissions who are at the top of their game in their respected regions. I also get the opportunity to work with our advisory board of senior industry players. As our industry is relationship based, there is an intrinsic value in the role that relates to that. It also ensures I am up to speed with the best practices for film commissions as in what is and isn’t working out there, this can then be applied back here.

What’s been good or challenging for FOS in the last year?
Our TVC market is going strong with some of the bigger shoots returning. Those had seemed to fade away in the past few years and we wondered if they were becoming a thing of the past: substantial projects with a very high spend per day. This is good for crews and the region. TVC’s are our bread and butter, so seeing the large productions again bodes well for the future. It’s worth noting that many productions will shoot in various locations across the country.

One challenge we recently faced in Queenstown was the accommodation situation. This February (coinciding with Chinese New Year) the town was essentially booked out. I have spoken to producers who didn’t bid on jobs for this period as they had accommodation issues last year. February has traditionally been one of our busiest months for the film industry, so this is a concern. This may be a twisted effect of film tourism in that the number of tourists inspired to visit because of film has now in effect made it difficult for the TVC sector to shoot. Ironic!

What’s shooting in your region at present?
TVC’s are ramping up again after the February lull, there is also quite a bit of interest for feature films but those are not my story to tell. Fingers crossed we’ll have some good successes to report in the coming year.