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CFVA Town Hall

Reports and ideas flew in all directions!
By Richard J. Schneider

Where to begin...

The Colorado Film and Video Association (CFVA) held its first Town Hall meeting Nov. 16 where the board members reported on what they have been doing. They also opened up the floor for comments and questions from CFVA members.

Essentially, the session – hosted in what we should be calling the “historical” main stage at Ken Seagran’s Lighting Services Inc. – was a report to membership from the board’s committees: what they’ve been doing, what they are planning, and what they are thinking about looking forward.

And they wanted feedback and ideas from the members.

“We’re a new CFVA,” said president Kevin Kerndt. “We’re here to serve the film community of Colorado.” One of the big watchwords of the evening was “transparency.” Kerndt said the all-volunteer board wanted to make sure member ideas for the association were considered and that CFVA business was wide open for all to see.

A lot is on the table, and board members did mention to the hundred or so in attendance that any CFVA member can volunteer to serve on any committee. Everything is unpaid, and members were asked to serve and give back to Colorado’s production community that now involves film, video, music video, commercial, and video game production.

Kerndt also noted that February, which is right around the corner, is election month. He encouraged CFVA members to consider running for the board of directors, noting that the board “will lose half its people” in February.

So polish up your bio, submit it for the upcoming elections, and run for the board. In short: give back to your industry.

Film Incentives

While much of the session was devoted to CFVA committee reports, all were interested in the announcement from film commissioner Donald Zuckerman that the Hickenlooper administration will be seeking to double the state’s current 10 per cent incentive to 20 per cent.

Zuckerman said the governor wants to set aside enough funds to incentivize an estimated $30 million in production during the fiscal year beginning next summer. That could involve several independent films in the $8-10 million range or combinations with industrial videos, music videos, electronic games, commercials, or still shoots.

Zuckerman said he didn’t get everything he wanted this year, but that the proposal going to the legislature will be a good start. His goal is to have enough incentive funds available to support year-round, statewide productions totaling $100 million a year and create 1,000 permanent jobs in the state.

Streamlined Memberships and Member Survey

One of the things the membership committee undertook was a member survey to see what members wanted their CFVA to be doing. Those responses were funneled to the different committees for action.
Another key step taken by the membership committee was to simplify the membership categories. There are now just two: a $250 corporate membership and a $50 individual membership. Memberships come with an automatic listing in the Colorado Production Guide. Extended listings are available at added cost.

Ad Hoc Political Activities

Board member Bob King reported on some of his politicking and lobbying efforts. He noted that he tried starting a political action committee (PAC) but that there were some restrictions placed on CFVA because of its IRS tax status. So Bob has headed up an ad hoc (i.e., outside the purview of CFVA) effort for the past few years that has paid off with a few dividends.

One of those was his help in defeating former state rep. Joel Judd’s effort to get elected to the state senate. “He’s been a thorn in our side for a long time,” King said. And Judd certainly was -- a Democrat who chaired the House Finance Committee and did whatever he could to undermine expanded incentives for the production industry.

Recently, King put together a non-CFVA contribution drive to raise money for lobbying efforts in the legislative session starting in January, an effort which will be critical to passage of the expanded incentive proposal.

Working with Local Government

Board member Leslie Allen told the group about work with the City and County of Denver, which is thinking about its own incentive program, as well as other committees around the state to promote and support production activities. The Denver initiative, in conjunction with the Denver Film Advisory Office, was aimed at efforts “to make production in Denver easier,” she said.

Allen noted that CFVA also has “reached out” to other communities, including Aspen, Boulder, Grand Junction, and other cities. “We need to reach out to the entire state,” she said, “not just Denver.” Along those lines, the Front ranger CFVA-ers are talking with the Western Slope CFVA-ers about doing a ski weekend somewhere in Ski Country. That sounds rather cool.

Beefed up Events and Education

Board member Keleigh Asbury said CFVA has been beefing up its events schedule beyond the traditional monthly networking and flesh-pressing schmoozers, still among the most popular CFVA-sponsored events. The new and expanded events include such efforts as the special High Noon Entertainment facility tour, a tie-in with the Denver Film Society’s Film on the Rocks program at Red Rocks, the first ever “State of the Industry” panel presentation at the DFS’ new digs on East Colfax in Denver, co-sponsorship of a special event at the fall Video Expo and the pre-party for the Denver International Film Festival, the November Town Hall meeting, and the Holiday gathering at the Chop House in Denver.

But wait! There’s more! More educational and industry-related activities are in the offing. Some tentative titles include “The Business of Film” and “SAG/AFTRA Contracts 101” workshops. These are yet to be finalized, but you get the idea. And speaking of ideas, send your ideas for possible educational workshop topics to your CFVA board.

Financial Transparency

Denise Strong, CFVA’s treasurer, reported that the organization is “in the black with all bills paid.” Then she rattled off a list of just how each CFVA dollar was being spent: 54% on the Web, 20% on schmoozers and events, 7.5% on tax services, 5% on the E-Bulletin, 3-ish% on writing, 2.7% for CFVA’s scholarship support to the DFS’ Young Filmmakers Workshop, 2-ish% for the production guide iPhone app, and 4.1% for miscellaneous.

Website and Production Guide

President Kerndt’s romp through the revisions to the CFVA website and the Colorado Production Guide were impressive to say the least. He explained that the board spent a great deal of time extricating itself from it’s earlier IT vendor contracts and systems to free it up to revise both the site and the guide in such a way that the board “can work with it” – meaning update and revise on the fly.

The new design is “built on a solid framework … that gives CFVA maximum flexibility,” Kerndt said, with underlying new vendor relationships that will benefit the CFVA. “We’re really trying to reach out to the Western Slope to get them involved with the production guide, so it’s not just Denver” Kerndt said.
Both the website and the guide are works in progress, but Kerndt said the overall objective is to make CFVA internet operations highly beneficial to members and useful to out-of-state production companies seeking Colorado professionals. Near future tekkie things in the works: embedded demo reels and an Android app to match the iPhone production guide app.

Communications and Marketing

Kerndt also signaled changes with the CFVA’s communications committee, including a possible hook-up with Facebook and Twitter, updating brochures, handouts, and encouraging members to submit stories for the E-Bulletin and website, including on-location photos.

Board vice president Greg Babcock said the organization is looking at further developing a marketing strategy for CFVA. Plus he thought the new design for the online production guide would “raise the bar” on CFVA membership “to a truly professional level.”

Health Insurance and Other Business Services

Board member John Hardy of High Noon Entertainment is heading up an effort to address the Number One issue raised in the membership survey: health insurance. He said he was working with an insurance brokerage to develop a list of possible insurance carrier packages that might offer discounts for CFVA members. Again, this is in the works. He said he and other board members were also looking at discounts for additional business-related services such as tax preparation and banking. More to come on this.

Denver industrial video producer and writer Richard J. Schneider covers industry events for the CFVA E-Bulletin and website.