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State remains in a reel battle

California is finding ways to keep moviemakers from fleeing for tax credits.

August 25, 2010|By Bill Kisliuk,
(Cheryl A. Guerrero )

Efforts to stop the years-long flight of film crews from California to faraway locations are gaining steam.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian has proposed new tax incentives to keep production crews filming in his city. The effort follows last year's creation of a California Film Commission program that provides $100 million in tax breaks each year to movie and TV crews filming in the state — a move spearheaded by Krekorian.

Neither Glendale nor Burbank offer tax incentives, though both have taken steps to lure filmmakers inside city limits.

Burbank recently reduced the price of a permit to shoot for a single day from $350 to $150, and loosened requirements for when crews even need permits. The city has also worked to quickly process permits when filmmakers come calling.

"The city has the slogan the 'Media Capital of the World.' That is what we consider ourselves to be," said Norma Brolsma, a clerk with the Burbank Police Department who tracks film permit requests.


She said the city has a two-day turnaround on permit requests, and can move more quickly if needed. This year the city has issued 263 permits and is on pace to top the 367 permits in 2009.

Glendale, where this week Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman were filming New Line Cinema's "Horrible Bosses," also has seen an uptick in film production, said City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian.

Glendale issued about the same number of filming permits, roughly 220, both this year and last year. But in 2009, he said, only 150 productions came to town by this time last year. So far this year, the number is already 186.

"There's no finite way of predicting or projecting the total number by end-of-year, but it appears to be a big year for filming in Glendale," Kassakhian said.

Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz noted that film crews are in town on a regular basis, including two production crews expected in Montrose in the next two weeks.

He said police, firefighters, the city clerk's office and risk managers communicate swiftly to get permits in place, notify affected neighborhoods and troubleshoot unique challenges — as when producers of a beer commercial staged a helicopter landing on Brand Boulevard earlier this year.

With minimal financial obstacles, Lorenz said the steady stream of film shoots into Glendale was attributable to "less bureaucracy."

Paul Audley, president of FilmLA, the agency that coordinates film shoots in the Los Angeles County, said flexibility is important for the studios.

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