L.A. Keeping Pace with Trends in Film Office Function

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Last month, the Atlanta City Council approved the creation of a City Office of Entertainment, a move that local media said would help to “streamline the permit process” to shoot in the city and “mitigate neighborhood impacts” from filming.

If these phrases sound familiar, then you probably know about FilmL.A. and the work we do here in Los Angeles.  Formed to help Los Angeles remain the film, television and commercial production capital of the world, FilmL.A. has been coordinating film permits while balancing filmmaker and neighborhood interests since 1995.

Atlanta’s new film office isn’t the only one-stop shop to be opened by a competing jurisdiction.  The New York Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting fills a similar niche in the Big Apple.  Vancouver has the Vancouver Film Office, while Film New Orleans fits the bill in its area.  The advantages of one-stop shopping for film permits and related services are obvious to industry players, which is why this has become an industry best practice.

In addition, once local filming activity reaches a certain level, having experts on hand to manage film industry/community relations quickly becomes essential.  FilmL.A. has been a leader in this area, as evidenced by rival film offices’ interest in our portfolio of community-directed services.

The responsibilities of first-rate film promoters are summarized in a 2006 publication from the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), entitled “The Rules of Attraction: Creating Production Friendly Communities.”  By IFTA’s standards, Los Angeles qualifies as a “Type 3 Community” (the most advanced kind) largely because of the film industry’s century-long history in the region.

Some of these advantages include L.A.’s class-leading “supply of entertainment labor, talent and materials” and availability of “first-class production facilities” for production and post production.

A more recently cultivated advantage, although certainly not a new one, is the benefit of a permitting process that is “simple, clear and cost effective,” with the government offering “a centralized permitting system across multiple jurisdictions.”  In Los Angeles, these functions are satisfied by FilmL.A. and the services we perform for the City and County of Los Angeles under contract.  Improvements to the film permit process are ongoing, as the needs of an evolving industry require.

Additionally, while neighborhood opinions of filming vary, as a general rule there is “significant community support for all types of production” in Los Angeles and government support for filming, as the IFTA study recommends.  When FilmL.A. launched the Film WorksTM public education campaign in 2010, it was in recognition of this important fact.  It is also the reason we employ staff to focus specifically on neighborhood outreach and education.

Finally, the IFTA report is quick to recommend that “government entities at all levels actively encourage production through clear and reliable incentives.”  With unique knowledge of the film industry’s impact on the region, FilmL.A. works to equip policymakers with facts and figures to support the creation of new production incentives.  When those incentives debut – as the City of Los Angeles’ new TV pilot fee waiver will next year – FilmL.A. promotes them at film industry conferences and events.

The actions of challengers like Atlanta notwithstanding, Los Angeles can still claim multiple advantages in the competition for new film projects and jobs.  With an expanded California State Film & Television Tax Credit, and the leadership of industry-supportive champions like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, there’s a good chance Hollywood’s comeback could be right around the corner.

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