Tuesday, March 20, 2007

fed up with filmLA

Last night Jim and I attended DLANC's filming issues ad-hoc meeting. It seems that after suffering through many abusive film crews, downtown residents have finally had enough. Many of the residents have been complaining via their blogs (here and here) and websites, within their email groups, and you can't swing a dead cat over your head at any of the downtown eateries and bars without hitting someone with a legitimate complaint or a filming horror story.

This wasn't the first meeting - last week's was attended by a community relations guy from FilmLA, the organization that's supposed to facilitate film permits and is responsible for notifications of filming in the City of Los Angeles. After hearing him drop lie after lie, I couldn't take it anymore. He said that FilmLA was acting on a "mandate from the City". I asked him (when I was finally allowed to speak) if FilmLA was under a contract rather than a mandate, which he verified it was, and then I asked him when FilmLA's contract with the City was up for renewal.

He turned about three different colors before he answered, "June."

I could detail every lie told at that meeting, but it's not really necessary to embarrass the guy. Not here and not now, there'll be plenty of time for that later. The point is, the residents of downtown are pissed and they're not going to take it anymore. For me, pissed off is my baseline. And I'm glad that everybody else seems to have had it as well. Don't get me wrong, I make my living in this industry and want filming to continue in downtown Los Angeles. But someone has to be accountable for lack of notifications, permit violations and non-compliance, lax permitting, rampant street closures, abusive behavior from film crews, explosions and simulated gunfire without warning, aircraft flying lower than permitted, and general disregard for the safety and comfort of the residents of the 90013 zip code (the most filmed location outside of studios).

If you live downtown, you have to know that you have every right to view a production's film permit. Ask anyone with a walkie - just identify yourself as a resident that is being impacted by their production. Ask for the location manager and a copy of their film permit. If you're not sure what they're doing that's wrong - check out the Filmmaker's Code of Conduct, which is on my sidebar to the right. Arm yourself with knowledge of your rights as a resident, educate yourself on what film crews can and cannot do, and don't let anyone intimidate you.

This August I will have lived in downtown Los Angeles for sixteen years, ten of them in the Historic Core, ground zero for downtown film locations. I've developed some strategies for dealing with film crews. If you have questions on filming and lessening its impact on you as a resident, worker, or patron of downtown please feel free to ask questions of me in the comments below or by emailing me (my email is on the sidebar). I will try to answer them in future posts titled, "Ask A Curmudgeon".

UPDATE: The Filmmaker's Code of Conduct is supposed to be distributed by FilmLA with every film permit that they issue. From their website:
"FilmL.A. encourages all production companies to abide by the terms of the Filmmakers’ Code of Professional Responsibility, which we distribute with every permit we release. The Code outlines generally accepted standards of courtesy for film crew members working out on-location.

If you are a resident or business owner in a neighborhood being used for filming, the Code describes the level of professionalism you should expect from the production company."

BTW, I have never worked on a production where the cast or crew has ever seen or even knows about the Code.


The Unsomnambulist said...

Is the Filmmakers Code of Conduct something you made, or is it an official code that location managers, producers, etc. need to sign or follow?

celia said...

it's something that FilmLA supposedly attaches to every film permit they issue and outlines generally accepted standards of behavior while on-location. it's official.

R said...

Filming crap happened in the Chinatown / El Pueblo area on Monday night as well... Helicopters flying overhead till midnight, no notification, given the runaround from FilmLA.

Add to that last night our building's fire alarms went off until the wee hours of the morning, and it hasn't been a great week for sleep!