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Tuesday, Mar 5, 2024

Panel Says Good Neighbors Can Keep Production Local

Panel Says Good Neighbors Can Keep Production Local By SLAV KANDYBA Staff Reporter A commercial production crew had all necessary permits and notified businesses that it was going to film on a commercial strip somewhere in Los Angeles, when it ran into a problem. A nearby business owner, angered by the crew’s presence, turned up the volume on his radio, opened his windows, and left. Unable to proceed with their filming because of the noise, the stunned production crew was forced to pay what was essentially a bribe to film their commercial. This story, told to Steve Caplan, vice president of external affairs at the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, is one of many complaints by producers. In fact, Caplan’s organization, which represents more than 200 commercial producers, conducted a survey over the past two years that identified unfriendly community attitudes as one of the reasons for runaway production the departure of filming from Los Angeles to other states, or in some cases, other countries. “For a while in L.A. there has been an attitude that filming is a disruption and is not welcome,” Caplan said, adding that he believed a small but loud minority felt that way. The subject of community attitudes was brought into focus by Caplan and two other panelists at last week’s Valley Industry and Commerce Association luncheon, an event the sponsors felt would help to start a dialogue with the community. The other panelists were Steve MacDonald, president of the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., and Steve Dayan, business agent for Teamsters Local 399. KTLA-TV news anchor Ron Olsen was on hand to moderate the event, held at the Courtyard Marriott on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. 35,000 jobs lost Runaway production has prompted hundred of productions to leave the state, taking with them more than 35,000 jobs in the five counties of Southern California, according to Greg Lippe, a CPA and VICA communications and entertainment committee co-chair. The numbers amount to a 24 percent decline over a five-year period, Lippe added. Runaway production translates to devastating news to the local economy, especially in the San Fernando Valley, where the entertainment industry is the second largest employer, Lippe said. “For every dollar lost on the production the impact on the economy is seven times,” Lippe said. “The spillover effect of filming spreads far and beyond the neighborhood,” added Caplan. AICP’s member survey in 2002 found that one out of every four shooting days occurred outside the United States, or a quarter of all shooting. In 2003 the loss to the domestic economy dropped to 22 percent, likely because the dollar dropped in value against other currency, not because the situation has improved, Caplan said. The runaway production losses equaled about $1 billion to the U.S. economy, Caplan said. While VICA has lobbied legislators in Washington, D.C. and supported business tax reforms that would favor film production in L.A, officials felt the luncheon could help to make a difference for the crews that are working in the local area. Friendlier neighborhoods “I was getting frustrated that we weren’t getting anything from the (federal or the state government),” said Bonny Herman, VICA president. “So we looked at what we can do and that is to be friendlier to the production crews when they roll out to our neighborhoods.” During the luncheon, VICA presented a seven-minute film called “Runaway Films: Keep Them in America,” which was produced by the sons of Scott Murphy, the VICA entertainment committee vice-chair. Both David and Jeff Murphy experienced the effects of runaway production when they graduated from film school and found jobs scarce. David for a while worked as a golf caddy, before helping co-found Instinct Productions, a Northridge-based company that produces music videos, TV commercials and short films. For their video, the Murphy brothers interviewed a number of L.A. city officials, including Mayor James Hahn and Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Chief Economist Jack Kyser, as well as a number of film producers and crew members. Most of the interviewees addressed high costs of filming in Los Angeles as the cause of runaway production. The panelists, meanwhile, pointed to community attitudes and asked the audience to help change them. Dayan said the owners of properties that are used for filming could alleviate complaints from neighbors by simply talking to them or presenting token gifts, such as cookies or wine. “It would be great if communities publicly acknowledge they welcome filming,” Dayan said. MacDonald, a former deputy of Mayor Hahn, said the focus of EIDC, which handles film permits, was to improve notification and enforcement of permits in the city. Scott Murphy, the VICA entertainment committee vice-chair and CEO of Northridge-based Ameritel, Inc., a telecommunications firm, said changing the community attitudes, or the ‘not-in-my-backyard syndrome,’ was important to the Valley’s economy. “(Filming) is good for everybody, even though it might be slightly inconvenient,” Murphy said. “It’s worth that price many people rely on those productions.”

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