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Mall Enthralls Television Series’ Location Scouts

Location service Real to Reel Inc. has discovered a star venue where eager producers want to film. One of the Van Nuys company’s properties, Westside Pavilion shopping center on Pico Boulevard, was the backdrop for four separate productions in the week of Jan. 16. Chief Executive Gary Onyshko said the popularity of that property has risen along with its reputation of being film friendly. “Due to them taking our recommendations as far as being accommodating, they have expanded their film program fairly respectively,” Onyshko said. Real to Reel pairs up feature films, television shows and commercials with appropriate locations such as desert backdrops, office buildings, hotels, private homes and apartments, schools and warehouses. The Hollywood & Highland entertainment and dining complex and Universal CityWalk are among the high-profile properties the firm has represented. At the Westside Pavilion, the four shows that filmed in the same week were ABC sitcoms “Modern Family” and “Speechless;” “Life in Pieces,” a sitcom airing on CBS; and the ninth season of Larry David’s HBO comedy, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The following week the Fox comedy “The Mick” filmed at the mall. Having four shows at a single location reflects how busy television production is right now, Onyshko said. “It is not un-similar to how busy we’ve been since the start of the year, and even the last quarter of last year,” he added. The most recent numbers from FilmL.A., the Hollywood nonprofit that coordinates location filming permits in Los Angeles, unincorporated county and other jurisdictions, demonstrates the increase in television production. Last year, television had a 4.8 percent increase in shoot days for a total of 16,463, compared to 15,712 in 2015. On-location filming for television comedies rose by 9 percent and dramas by 1.6 percent for the year. A shoot day is one crew’s permission to film at one or more locations during a 24-hour period. Filming in a public space like a shopping mall brings certain challenges. Hunter Davis, an acquisition agent at Real to Reel, compared it to a juggling act between the company, mall management and the owners, Macerich Co., working together to ensure public safety, minimal disruption to the stores and allowing the productions to get their filming completed. “As their agent, that is our duty and responsibility to help to supervise the production,” Davis said. Visual Magic MastersFX, the creature effects shop in Arleta, marks its 30th anniversary this year as it finds its artists more in demand than ever. The company’s work has been in films and television series where its practical effects get blended with computer-generated images. Todd Masters, who started the company in 1987, said it keeps the hand-crafted art of make-up effects, prosthetics and realistic artificial bodies as the core of its business. “Our physical, on-set practical FX work is very much in demand these days. I’d even say, we’ve been busier these last couple of years, more than I can ever recall,” Masters said in a prepared statement. “That surprises even me.” In addition to the East San Fernando Valley facility, MastersFX has operations in Toronto and Vancouver. Recent projects include season two of “The Magicians” and “The Expanse,” both airing on cable channel SyFy; creating the werewolf Lycan characters for “Underworld: Blood Wars,” released last month; and bloody make-up effects and visual effects for “The Belko Experiment” coming to theaters in March. Masters called the company’s work on “The Magicians” interesting as the production relies heavily on practical effects to avoid having a look that is all computer generated. “When CG is used, it’s sparing and smart – retaining a very organic, believable magic, unique to this show,” Masters said in his statement. MastersFX effects will also appear in “Prison Break” on Fox, “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu and “Legion” premiering this month on cable channel FX. Collaborative Software GrayMeta released this month new software for media companies to allow for editing, post-production and delivery of television and film content files. The Iris program from the Agoura Hills company includes a media player that can show 4K and high dynamic range content files in interoperable master formats. Cost for licensing the software ranges from $599 to $2,999 a year. GrayMeta Chief Executive Tom Szabo said he looked forward to Iris being adopted throughout the entertainment industry. “We are excited to release this new suite of Iris solutions to address complex and ever-changing challenges through many levels of organizations and individual professionals in all areas from production through distribution,” Szabo said in a prepared statement. Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or mmadler@sfvbj.com.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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