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One method for putting Burbank on the map

December 14, 2002

AS IF YOU ASKED

Apparently Burbank's finances are in absurdly good shape, because

at this week's meeting, a 3-2 City Council majority, acting as the

Redevelopment Agency, voted to virtually throw away $25,000. That's

what the city is paying to bring the "Method Fest" to Burbank, a film

festival honoring work done by unknown "breakout actors in

independent films."

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Based upon the presentation by city staff, information about this

supposedly popular and well-known festival is surely old news to most

of you. But in case you're among the handful who don't know as much

about the film industry as the city's redevelopment offices, next

year's Method Fest will be the fifth annual event. Thanks to our

coughing up taxpayer cash, as many as 12,000 people are hoped to

attend the event, scheduled for April 11 to 18.

There was unfounded and positively ludicrous speculation by a

couple of council members that hotel bookings will easily make up the

city's investment. Haven't any of these people ever met unknown

actors, independent filmmakers, and the people who support their

work? And let's assume the brags about distributors and media giants

coming to see the selections is true. For those traveling from points

beyond Burbank, Toluca Lake and elsewhere in the Valley, some of the

longest commutes will begin in Culver City!

I was especially floored to realize the answers to questions asked

by council members were irrelevant to their decisions. For example,

noting boasts of prominent and influential sponsors who invest up to

$60,000 to become involved with the festival, Mayor David Laurell

asked festival creator Don Franken for examples of a $60,000 sponsor.

In a bizarre spin, Franken answered by rattling off the names of

major companies that sponsor other festivals. But he couldn't attach

one of those names to his own.

Franken said L.A. Weekly is donating $5,000 of free advertising.

Charter Communications is donating $40,000 worth of free ads, but of

course they have our recent hike in cable rates to help pay for that.

Franken, incidentally, is a public-relations man based in El Segundo

whose Web site boasts his firm's accomplishments. Those include

dropping a boat from the roof of a convention center to attract media

attention to a boat show, and his 40 years of producing the L.A.

Indoor Invitational Track meet.

The first four Method Fests were in Pasadena, and Laurell -- who

has a habit of asking good questions and ignoring the answers if they

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