FilmL.A. Monitors: Ambassadors for On-Location Filming

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Los Angeles residents enjoy an opportunity that is rare for most Americans — spotting film crews at work in local communities.  Thanks to California’s revised Film & Television Tax Credit Program, L.A. has seen an uptick in on-location production, particularly in scripted TV.  Many may wonder how filming is managed during on-location shoots.  For the highest-impact productions, some of that oversight is provided by FilmL.A. Monitors.

Monitors offer ground level-support for filmmakers and community members alike.  Assigned using need-based criteria or at the request of film production companies, FilmL.A. Monitors serve as ambassadors or points of contact for community members and business owners who have questions about the filming process.

FilmL.A. Monitors arrive early and are often the last to leave a film site.  A typical day for a FilmL.A. Monitor starts before sunrise.  For some shoots a Monitor may only be needed for a 4 hour period, while other shifts can last 16 hours.

Once the crew and production vehicles roll in, Monitors will interact with the public and production companies to resolve issues such as parking of production vehicles, noise concerns, placement of production equipment, and blocked driveway access.  Monitors also make sure that neighborhoods are left as clean or in better condition than when crews arrived.  A Monitor’s main goal is to have a shoot proceed without incident.

FilmL.A.’s recently-expanded, 19 member Monitor team staffs an estimated 3,000 shoots annually.  The average FilmL.A. Monitor has anywhere from 4 to 6 years of experience.  Like much of FilmL.A.’s staff, many of our Monitors are artists when they are not working for FilmL.A.  Today’s team is made up of actors, designers, singer/song writers, and writers — so their enthusiasm for making filming work in L.A. is very personal.

Michael Lifshey, who became one of FilmL.A.’s first Monitors when the program was enacted in 1997, now oversees the department as its manager.

“Nineteen years ago when the program started, we faced some skepticism from residents and the production community,” said Lifshey.  “As the program has evolved, our most dedicated Monitors have built relationships with industry professionals and within communities, setting a standard for the next generation.  Their dedication has helped the Monitor program flourish and grow,” Lishey adds.

Today residents, business owners and production companies have embraced the Monitoring staff and even request specific Monitors by name.


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