According to the LAEDC, the entertainment industry accounts for 176,700 direct jobs and $30 billion in spending in the Southern California region. However, there are 40 states and numerous countries around the world that are competing aggressively for this business. In response, SCAG, FilmL.A., the California Film Commission and the LAEDC are partnering to support the important job creation and financial contribution of the entertainment industry to our region’s economic recovery and sustained growth.
Back on May 1, 2012 the California Film Commission adopted a revised statewide Model Film Ordinance and Best Practices (MFO/BP) after extensive outreach to entertainment stakeholders throughout the state. According to the Commission, the ordinance will provide the entertainment industry with a uniform set of policies and procedures to secure on-location production, figuratively rolling out the red carpet to filming by streamlining the production and permitting process.
Movie and television filming is often equated with Los Angeles and the iconic Hollywood sign, but production does occur throughout the entire Southern California region accounting for 176,700 direct jobs and $30 billion in spending throughout the region.
Until now, many of these cities have had vastly different policies pertaining to filming days and permits, making it difficult for production companies to find details. Often times, crews film in multiple cities making the planning phase both arduous and exasperating. With other states rolling out their own incentive packages to attract revenue-generating films away from California, a number of business and entertainment stakeholders in Southern California have joined forces to send a clear signal that California intends to retain one of its most valuable heritage industries.
“Despite being recognized as the entertainment capital of the world, Southern California must take additional steps to retain film and television production. So, I encourage cities throughout Southern California to take SCAG’s unanimous support for film and television production to heart, adopt some version of the Model Film Ordinance and Best Practices that fits their jurisdiction’s needs, and send a clear and loud message that filming is welcome and will always have a home in Southern California,” said LAEDC CEO and President Bill Allen.
On July 5th, SCAG’s Regional Council unanimously moved to encourage its 191 member cities and six counties to adopt a version of the MFO/BPs that fit their particular needs. The motion, urged by SCAG Regional Council President Glen Becerra, and the unanimous vote were clear and explicit expressions of support for one of Southern California’s most important and touchstone industry clusters, entertainment, which directly supports 176,700 direct jobs with $18.5 billion in total wages in Southern California in 2010, but which has been threatened in part by productions leaving the region for places offering lucrative incentives and film-friendlier environments.
“Given California’s persistent high unemployment rate, cities and counties are taking the lead locally to ensure that they retain important revenue generating industries and attract additional business. Southern California is home to ‘Hollywood’ – it is our heritage, but cannot be taken for granted. By including the MFO/BP in Phase II of our Economic Recovery & Job Creation Strategy we are clearly stating that supporting the entertainment industry is critical to our region’s economy and future. In addition, this is only the beginning of government, business and an industry specialist working together to adopt business-friendly principles that secure a prosperous California,” stated SCAG President and CEO, Glen Becerra.
According to a 2005 LAEDC report commissioned by the California Film Commission, 10 “feature films” (budgets greater than $70 million) that leave the state means a loss of $106 million in state revenues, not to mention the high value jobs and small businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and dry cleaners that may be lost as well.
“The Model Film Ordinance is a valuable tool for helping municipalities become more film-friendly, as well as more adept at dealing with how filming impacts the local community,” said California Film Commission Executive Director Amy Lemisch. “This region has more experience and know-how than anywhere in the world when it comes to managing film and TV production, and it’s simply good policy for local governments to follow established best practices. Widespread adoption of the MFO will help Southern California create jobs and compete more effectively against runaway production.”
Several cities, including the cities of Carson, Simi Valley, and Duarte have already taken steps to revise their ordinances in accordance with the MFO/BPs. In particular, the City Council of Carson voted on June 6, 2012 to revise its film ordinance to reflect the principles contained in the MFO/BPs, including:
- Eliminating the city’s business license requirement for film productions.
- Adjusting the film permit structure to a weekly rate of $650 for the first week and $500 thereafter.
- Reducing the advanced notice requirements from two weeks to five days.
- Requiring law enforcement on an as-needed basis only.
- Reducing the radius required to notify businesses and residents of filming from 500’ to 300’.
- Reducing the radius required to survey businesses and residents of filming for extended hours from 500’ to 300’.
“Carson has been the home of many productions over the years. Film makers told us our policies were getting in the way of getting the job done,” said Barry Waite, Business Development Manager for the City of Carson. “We listened and developed new regulations that meet the community’s needs and the industry’s needs at the same time. With so many great filming locations in town, it would be a shame to have them go unused.”
Film L.A. President Paul Audley weighed in on the SCAG Regional Council motion:
“One of the constant refrains I hear from filmmakers is the need for predictability and uniformity in the film permit process. SCAG’s adoption of the Model Film Ordinance will help urge local communities and county governments to work within a framework of policies that can create a region that is attractive to the Industry. The much-needed economic benefits from increased film spending and getting more cast and crew back to work will be substantial as a result.”