Los Angeles you could learn a thing or two

I have been talking a lot lately about trying to do something about the film permitting here in Los Angeles.  Is it me or is it completely ridiculous that permitting is not done on a sliding scale based on budget? In these economic times wouldn’t the people of this great city, the “entertainment capital of the world” no less want to bring production BACK to Los Angeles. Well then, why not stop charging $1500 and more in flat fees to productions whose budgets are LOW.  Why not instead charge a fee based on either a percentage of the budget of the project OR a flat fee based on a sliding scale.  Here is an example.  Take Joe, he is an indie filmmaker who is self financing his short film for $20,000.  Joe really wants to film one of his scenes at a beach in Los Angeles County.  Joe can’t afford the $1500 fee plus the police escort at $122 an hour with an 8 hour minimum because then he won’t be able to cover his craft services!  So Joe decides to say, “F THIS!” Instead Joe takes himself, his camera guy, a sound guy, two of his actors, and a PA and films the scene he wants guerilla style on the beach as the PA keeps a look out for cops patrolling the beach.  So City of LA had you said to Joe, “Hey Joe. I know you have only a 20k budget so I will make you a deal, we will charge you $100 flat for the day to shoot here on our beach and since you only have a crew of 4 or 5 you won’t need a police escort.  Just sign this nifty piece of paper saying you will not prohibit anyone from beach activity in the area you are shooting in and that you will pick up all trash once you finish shooting otherwise we can fine you up to $1200.  With that, Joe,  you have yourself a beach for the day!” LA you may think, “Well who cares I only made $100 off of Joe.” I say that is $100 more than you had before because Joe just told you, the city of LA, to piss off and did things without you!

Now if a production has $100,000 or $500,000 or 5 million, you adjust the permit fee accordingly with a maximum cap.  So for example if X Studio is shooting a 55 million dollar feature, I think taking a larger permit fee is justifiable.  I don’t see why a $20,000 short film and a $25 million dollar feature are required to pay the same amount for a permit. Now I do understand having police on the 25 million feature, but again WHY would you need a police officer with a 4 person crew. PLEASE someone explain this to me.  You want to make MORE money LA county, well make the fees fair.  I guarantee more people would start doing things legitimately and I would be the first person to call up FILM LA and say here is my $100!  I know so many low budget projects whether they be film, tv or web content that just avoids going through the permit office altogether because the fees are ridiculous and no one wants to work with you. So I ask you the filmmakers of the world who want to shoot in LA, what do you think? If fees were done on a sliding scale would you be more apt to go through the proper channels? Let me know your thoughts!

I am serious. I do want to do something about this and would like to really rally some indie filmmakers here in LA to prompt some change to bring film production back into this city or myself along with others will just choose to keep leaving!

Oh and by the way, the video above is from the film HOME… check it out! It’s free on YOUTUBE.



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June 2010
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