On Thursday, May 10th, Jim and I walked out of our building to attend the closing night ceremony of the VC Asian Pacific Film Festival (Jim blogged about it). There was a filming notification on our door for a production shooting in front of our building, in the alley behind us, and in the parking lot next door. We were going to be surrounded, and it was going to start at 6am the next morning. Less than twelve hours notice and although it said, "pending community survey", no one in our building was surveyed (I asked around).
All day Friday, May 11th, we were surrounded by a lot of noise, and although it was annoying and made it difficult for me to work all day, it got really noisy and bothersome in the afternoon. That's when they started using their smoke machines and the smoke started to come in through our windows facing the parking lot and Main Street.
I walked through the throng of extras and the off-duty LAPD officer blocking the sidewalks on Main Street and into the lot. At 5:34pm I asked the security guard if I could talk to the location manager, Bruce Boehner, 213-925-5379, and/or the FilmLA rep. The security guard said that the FilmLA rep left earlier that day at 12:30pm. I asked to see the location manager, verifying on my notification that it was Bruce Boehner, and for a copy of their film permit. He then said, "Can I take that back about the FilmLA rep leaving?"
I walked over to a guy on a walkie-talkie and asked to see the location manager. He asked me what the problem was, so I identified myself as a resident and a member of the DLANC Residents' ad-hoc Filming Issues Committee. He said he'd find the location manager or the FilmLA rep, who was supposed to be on the radio. Yeah, he just happened to not be responding. Even though two security guards verified that the FilmLA rep left about five hours earlier.
Then they started wrapping their location. Oh good, they were leaving. Except that they were leaving their cars there. Which meant that I could look forward to cars honking as they left the lot sometime around 1 or 2am. Great. There I was, standing around for a half-hour instead of working, while they pretended to care, pretended to try to locate a film permit (which is a matter of public record and a document they're supposed to have on-hand at each location), and the location manager refused to talk to me. The guy on the walkie who was supposed to locate Bruce Boehner then asked me to step out of the parking lot and onto the sidewalk so that I wouldn't get in their way. Yeah, never mind how the film crew was inconveniencing the whole fucking neighborhood all day starting at 6am, and with less than twelve hours notice, I needed to stand three feet away on the other side of a fence. So I stood there and waited.
Then, at 6:11pm the guy gets in his car and drives out of the lot. Without finding the location manager or FilmLA rep. Without furnishing me with a copy of their film permit. I ask the security guard what's going on. He just shrugged. I called Jim, who I could see in our window, and asked if he had called FilmLA's office or the 24-hour emergency number. He had, but there was no answer. It didn't even go to voicemail, it just kept ringing.
Finally, a full hour after I asked, Derek the FilmLA rep walks up to me with a copy of their film permit, permit # F-205458. I asked him for the copy of the special conditions, which the permit said was "attached". He said there weren't any. I pointed out that it was supposed to be attached. I asked him, "Do you know that there are special conditions for filming in downtown?" He said, "No."
I looked through the permit and asked for a copy. He said no, that was his copy and I could just call FilmLA and ask for a copy. I told him they weren't anwering the phones at the office. He said it was after hours. I told him that we also tried calling the emergency, after-hours number and no one was responding. I told him that there were special conditions for filming downtown and that they were on his company's website and he said that he never heard of it, no one ever told him about it.
I pointed out that all the buildings surrounding this "location" were residential. He shrugged and asked what my problem was. "Besides the smoke going in my windows? And the noise? And the caterer setting up the open-air barbecue underneath our windows? How about this 6am start time on the permit? How about less than twelve hours notice?"
Derek said, "Oh, they didn't start at 6am."
I countered, "How do you know that? You didn't get to the set until after the previous FilmLA rep left at 12:30pm today. And it says right on this permit, this permit and this notification that it was a 6am start time. I didn't hear you guys setting up, but I'm on the 7th floor. The guys on the 2nd floor heard you guys set up, though." I admit I was guessing about Derek's start time, but Derek confirmed it.
I copied all the pertinent information off his film permit and then he asked for my contact info. I resisted telling him my name was Heywood Jablowme (Jim's suggestion) and gave him my real name and contact info.
Was that the end of it? No. As I predicted, when the cast/crew was done shooting at their other downtown location, they left the lot past midnight, honking and dropping metal pipes on the ground and making all sorts of noise. Never mind the other shoot on Spring Street that got Jim all riled up Friday night. But that's not the end of it.
At 2:40am, the eighth trailer pulled into the parking lot for yet another shoot. Yes, 2:40AM. I didn't walk over and ask for a copy of their film permit, so I don't know which production it was. But they're still there so I might go over later today. But I ask again, what's the point of FilmLA? Why issue film permits if they don't mean anything? What's the point of having rules for downtown area filming if their own employees don't know they exist and don't care? Why have an on-site monitor if they don't do anything when the permit is violated or when residents complain?
UPDATE: Dave blogged about the production that has bright lights shining onto Main Street and his issues with them. That's the producton that had their trailers noisily move in at 2:00am this past Saturday morning, (5/14/2007). Here's their film permit, the location manager is France Myung Fagin, (310) 447-4441, their permit number is F-205179-2, and, according to their film notification (which I never received) they plan on filming until 4am on 5/18/07, (Friday/Saturday morning). Since they didn't bother with a community survey, if anybody has a problem with that, just call them and let them know what you think.