Friday, August 31, 2007

how to complain about filmLA

I realized after hitting "publish" on my last post that while many of you have been following the saga of downtown filming issues and know who Bert, Ben and Ginny are, you might not know Dennis. Dennis is the elected filming liaison for the Bartlett Building and he's a production supervisor at one of the major studios. So before you haters start commenting, realize that in no way is he anti-filming.

Dennis emailed me to let me know how the situation on Monday night fell apart even further. He said that not one promise made by Geoff Smith was honored. Tired of the back and forth undocumented phone conversations and broken promises, Dennis had a very productive conversation with Amy Yeager of Councilman Huizar's office. He also has ongoing discussion with his co-worker, the person representing their studio in the Special Conditions negotiations. Turns out, the studio itself is a big admirer of Bert Green and finds our Special Conditions to be reasonable - because their studio already does what the Special Conditions require. Then, Dennis wrote an email to FilmLA and copied Councilman Huizar's office. Since I'm in Jan Perry's district, I would copy her and then for good measure I'd copy the CAO's office, since they have oversight for FilmLA's contract with the City.

Here's Dennis' email to Donna Washington at FilmLA, my comments are in parentheses:

"Sorry for taking this long to get back to you, but I wanted to take a moment to pause and reflect - and to regain my composure as a professional and deal with the systematic problems facing us, as opposed to allowing my own frustrations get the better of me as they did Monday night.

After a long talk for the first time with Amy Yeager on Tuesday morning, we both concluded that in each of our respective work environments, the response of "I don't know why this happened" is ever acceptable to those we report to. Unfortunately, this was the main content of your voicemail Tuesday evening regarding why our building was not notified by email or hard copy of the music video filming within 300 feet of our building and your voicemail ended with "I don't know why your building was not notified." This is not acceptable to our Homeowners Association.

From now on, I would prefer communication in email so that we all can work together to keep track of these incidents and figure out how FilmLA can better fulfill their commitments to downtown residents as referenced in the Downtown Filming Rules posted to FilmLA's website on April 26, 2007. Please see the link below:

Also on an ongoing basis, I will also be copying communication to my Homeowners Association Board of Directors to keep them current on issues such as why the communication that I provide from FilmLA's notifications to our 140 owners is repeatedly inaccurate due to the above types of instances - whereby FilmLA's notifications either don't happen, happen too late, or the description is materially different than what occurs in the neighborhood.

This last weekend from Friday to Monday was an excellent example of what we residents face, and I am glad to now communicate with Amy Yeager.

To recap:

1. After less than two days notice and an after-thought communication from the location manager revealing the placement of the condor crane and spotlight placed at the alley on 7th Street - 50 feet from the front door of my building , "Women's Murder Group" struck a last-minute deal with my Association which provided that our alley-side wall would not be lit - yet the opposite happened, lighting our wall. And this was while Todd, the FilmLA monitor stood and watched me have to negotiate a compromise for an hour and a half - and he said nothing. I still have not received a response from Geoff Smith or from the permit coordinator as to whether or not the placement of the condor and the spotlight were referenced in the permits that you issued.

2. "Journeymen" filmed Sunday afternoon under a FilmLA Notification that gave the address for the entrance to the alley at 6th street north of my building. The location manager said they would be only at that end of the alley. And yet they had extras walking back and forth in front of my building doorway at the 7th street entrance to the alley and production crew told our residents they could not park on the north side of 7th street in front of our building - although they did not have a legal lane closure. One of our owners was delayed until after 7:30PM to park her moving van, being told by production crew that the lane closure signs (still not taken down from "Women's Murder Group" from Friday - Saturday morning) were actually their notifications and should have included Sunday as well. This is false and deceptive, disrupting - yet again - our ability to quiet enjoyment of our property.

3. The music video Monday night that was not given consent from my building because there was no FilmLA Notification by email or hardcopy. Amy on your FilmLA hotline told me that you were working to get them out of the parking lot by 10PM because they had not received our sign-off. Later that evening, Geoff Smith while at the location, said they would be leaving at midnight after I told him I understood that they were to leave at 10PM because they did not have our consent. The production was still working at 12:15AM when I went to bed (my bedroom has a direct view of that parking lot) with no activity that remotely resembled packing up, while your FilmLA Monitor was out on the sidewalk. Neighbors were woken up at approximately 1AM to poles clanging, grips yelling, and production vehicle noise such as engines and beeping. I understand from Amy Yeager that four complaints from residents in the neighborhood were called in to LAPD.

So as you can see, I am very concerned that we have an understanding that the repeated response of "I don't know why" is not acceptable. Therefore, I would like to request the following:

1. A systematic breakdown of what at FilmLA is failing to do so that our building entrance continues to be overlooked,

2. A description of the job duties of FilmLA Monitors required to be at the location.

Thanks for your assistance."

Dennis Hunter
Bartlett Building Filming Liaison

If anybody else downtown has similar experiences, responding the way Dennis has is a really good way to voice your objections and concerns. Feel free to use this as a blueprint on how to complain effectively on filming abuses.

1 comment:

Rick Andreoli said...

Very excited to see where this goes. Productions have a notorious reputation of doing whatever they want all over this city, so I can only imagine how much worse it is downtown. God knows I've been caught in plenty long waits as some car commercial tied up the street.

Thanks for keeping us posted!