Problems with FilmLA

Filming and the Entertainment Industry in general are both huge sources of revenue for both Angelenos and the City of Los Angeles. I thoroughly enjoy watching movies and I think it is cool that they are commonly filmed in my neighborhood. In no way do I want to see the industry move out of Los Angeles, or even Downtown, not that it would even if it could. Those points aside, there are some serious problems with they way shoots are planned and executed, especially in Downtown.

A bit over a month ago I wrote an emotionally charged piece about my run-in with an especially rude film crew member. The response that I received from fellow downtown dwellers was amazing. Last week, one of the people who first contacted me about the post, Bert Green, started a thread on a Downtown mailing list and posted the responses.

Over the weekend the DLANC powers that be added an addendum to the meeting that was to take place the following Monday, and were able to get a representative from FilmLA to come down and talk to the community and the council. I missed most of the meeting, but I came in time to hear the FilmLA guy talk about how there would be “too much information” if they were to post all the notifications on their website. He also said that trying to send “those union people” to courtesy training would be impossible.

One thing I found especially funny was that he said there were good Location Managers and bad ones, and the bad ones spoil it for everyone, he then went on to name the Location Manager for the recent Tranformers shoot as one of the good ones. The Transformers shoot where they blew up a truck at 7am on a Saturday after only giving notification to residents on the same block. The explosion could be heard for miles.

As I see it there are some issues with FilmLA, which I am sure we will be addressed in the near future, mostly because their contract is up in June:

  • FilmLA’s funding comes from the permit fees the collect, that right there is a huge conflict of interest.
  • FilmLA has failed and continues to fail to properly notify residents of pending shoots.
  • FilmLA has little or no government or citizen oversight of the approval process
  • Production companies that continually break the rules are still issued permits and there are no consequences for their actions

The meeting was attended by nearly ever Downtown LA blogger, including: Ed (who wrote about the meeting), Jim, Celia, Don, Ben, and Ginny. If you are interested in being a part of the solution, DLANC has created a task force to deal with the problems and the first meeting is this coming Monday in the P.E. Lofts. More details along with Ginny-Marie‘s notes from the meeting after the jump.

The collective “we” need to get a handle on the rights/responsibilities/expectations of all of the parties involved.

It was great to hear that FilmLA will be working with us in a more proactive manner to ensure that filming impacts are minimized during our ArtWalk night.

(Ideally, I would love to see that no filming take place during ArtWalk…it could always be the lone respite from the craziness of filming)

The Arts District recently deployed an email notification, with thousands of letters/postcards going out to buildings. However, as of yet less than 100 people have signed up for the notification.

A couple of pain points stood out for me:

  1. Filming notices are getting held up at the front door of buildings. Residential units that have secured front doors will grow as an issue. We need to find alternatives to communicating with residents. Fax and email notifications are options that need to be explored.
  2. Crew Courtesy: we heard that there’s the good/bad/ugly. If you are on a film crew, be aware of your surroundings. You don’t own the road, building, sidewalk, please treat this like your own neighborhood. Ask yourself “How would I feel if I had the transformers filming outside my building at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning”

    Publicly contract construction firms do have codes of conducts that must be followed. The code covers everything from no catcalling, to the time large hauling trucks can stage, where they can stage. And, these firms employ union workers. One of the things I heard last night was – “You try telling union guys this/that/the other”. Well…many of us live with Union folks, actually, we proudly live with union folks…and well…come on! I would like us to examine codes of conduct, and how to get this information out to those teams filming in Downtown.

  3. Every neighborhood has a pet peeve. For some it is the color of the homes on the block. Others, it is the car that’s parked haphazardly on the curb. For us, it will/is filming. I’m happy to have this as a pet peeve, because this is something we can discuss, make some changes, and all be happy with the outcome.

What can we do right now:

Be vigilant. You have the right to ask (hopefully politely…remember catch more bees with honey) for the filming permit. We want to support permitted filming, and we can do that by asking to view a film permit. There’s a purpose for film permits – to ensure the coordination of emergency services, the safety of film crews as well as those in the area. Again, you have the right to view the film permit.

If the crew is unable to produce the permit, you can call the non-emergency line of the police department. Do so immediately.

Do not be intimidated by film crews, be respectful. And, in turn we should expect the same level of respect.

Next step:

A task force has been formed to address short and long –term issues as they relate to filming in Downtown. You are invited to attend! Items that we can discuss include:

  • What is the process to secure a film permit
  • Who is the best contact if we see a problem
  • How can residents be kept in the loop
  • Should a code of contact be required among film crews
  • What do we do with repeat offenders

I felt it was a positive meeting, and we walked away with an opportunity for an open dialogue and good next steps. Speaking of which… If you would like to be a part of this continuing conversation, please plan to join us!

  • Monday, March 19, 2007
  • 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Pacific Electric Lofts
  • 610 S Main St, Conference Room
  • onsite phone: 213.248.0698

You don’t have to RSVP, but if you want to let me know if you plan to attend, it will help me to know how many copies and supplies to have on hand.

If you can’t make it, or you would like to get on the listserve to work on this issue, please consider the yahoogroup.

11 thoughts on “Problems with FilmLA”

  1. Yup it’s all a pain in the ass. Yes they need to be more informative it its going to turn our lives upside down. Rudeness…they own us once they get a permit, or at least that’s their thinking.
    All of that aside, I didn’t grow up in LA so the entire process is magical and awe inspring to me still after all these years. Yes, inspite of beign woken up at midnight by lights so bright a block away is daylight in my house, car crashes all night long, helicopters with explosions I am still in awe. The irritation fades and I marvel at it all. Its part of what makes So Cal and LA what it is today and I wouldn’t change it, soften the edges maybe, but never change it.

  2. thats the problem none of you are from L.A. and you ecuee your problem was with the parking company not the film crew, you pay the parking copany not the lafilm crew.

  3. No, wrong. The problem was with the security guard that was working for the film crew. The guards who work in my lot wear different uniforms, and are polite.

  4. The rep from FilmLA who’s claiming it would be impossible to send “those union people” to courtesy training was either ignorant or purposely misleading.

    I’m a ten-year Local 700 member–The Editor’s guild, so I don’t do location work–but my building is directly next door to an obscure organization called Contract Services. Over the last two years, every SINGLE dues-paying union member in the film/TV business in Los Angeles has been required to attend at least one mandatory training session at Contract Services in Glendale relevant to the tasks of their job classifications. Depending on your union and work, some have been required to take as many as seven or eight. Once completed, we’re all issued what’s called a Safety Passport, which entitles the holder to work at any union signatory studio without being required to meet any additional studio-specific practices. Failure to complete the courses with a passing grade in a prescribed amount of time would have meant an inability to work until the requirements are met. It’s quite strict, and is organized in conjunction with all the member unions.

    The point of that isn’t to bore you all but to point out that it is altogether possible to introduce a required curriculum for union employees. It wouldn’t be terribly difficult for Contract Services to introduce a unit in location courtesy training for all relevant unions.

  5. I don’t live in DTLA,but travel thru there on my way home via the MTA(sorry,I hate driving the the Miracle Mile).I’ve been in the industry since I was 4(as an actor) and see way the public gets treated sometimes and I hate it.I’ve even had filming on my home street in San Pedro and was never given any notice of it.When I found the location manager,I asked her about it and she said “Well,nobody was home” when she came by.In the mean time I have cables across my sidewalk and I was not happy.I spoke to several other crew members who were understanding and really cared.
    I ended calling EIDC and ID’d myself as a SAG and AFTRA member and they were not please with the attitude of the location manager.When asked I had granted permission to film I said “No,I did not.Some of us will not have a place to park when we get home”.They ended up pulling the permit and LAPD asked them to leave.It was not a huge crew,but still.We need to send a message to these people.As for that secuirty guard,when you make $7 an hour what more could ask for??
    Also all the LAPD you come across on any location are retired and have no staus at all.You can ignore them all you want.They can’t make you stop,walk away or anything like that.So pass the word!


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