Film facilitator joins elite worldwide team

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 05:00 02/05/2014

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Southland and Otago's lone official film facilitator is now the best qualified in the southern hemisphere.

Film Otago Southland executive manager Kevin "KJ" Jennings was recently designated a certified film commissioner in a worldwide accreditation programme run by the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI).

Jennings is one of only 24 people worldwide to obtain the qualification, and the only one in the southern hemisphere. Earning the film commissioner title involved international study and workshops on topics ranging from economic development and marketing, to advanced studies of film production.

Jennings said bringing the qualification home proved the region's remoteness was part of its uniqueness, and would help him champion its many strengths internationally.

"Every film office around the world works within its own unique set of circumstances," he said.

"While I might be working to get filming access to a national park, one of the New York film office people may be working to get safe access to an inner-city ghetto - we all have our own strengths and unique points, and apply different scenarios to the same model, which is to capture locations on film which satisfy directors and producers and resonate with audiences."

Jennings' achievements were lauded by national film boss, New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Dave Gibson.

"KJ is a fantastic advocate for our Otago-Southland and wider New Zealand screen sector. I'm delighted that his hard work has been recognised and I want to congratulate him as he continues to talk up our skilled and talented industry, fantastic landscapes and new incentives overseas."

Achieving the certification would benefit the film industry throughout New Zealand, Jennings said.

"I know most of the other 23 commissioners who have gone through the programme and am able to bounce ideas off them or ask advice on how something might be working in their country. The networking and education opportunities that AFCI provide allow us to stay at the top of our game."

The Wakatipu last year gained worldwide exposure from Jane Campion's Top Of The Lake and this year co-starred with Southland locations for Walking With Dinosaurs. Invercargill has served as main location for Water For Elephants and Two Little Boys. The southern region is constantly featured in television commercials worldwide.

In 2011 Jennings was awarded an AFCI scholarship, and in 2012 received a professional development award from the New Zealand Film Commission that enabled him to achieve certification. He also is on the board of AFCI directors.

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- The Southland Times

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