L.A. Doesn't Have A Film Commission? Councilman Tries To Change That

It's a strange fact: The city of Los Angeles doesn't have a proper film-it-here marketing arm targeting Hollywood productions like such offices and commissions in New York, Toronto or even Savannah, Georgia. Councilman Richard Alarcon is proposing that we get one.

The move might not make sense seeing that L.A. is the capital of the film industry. Few industries are tied to a region like film: It's named Hollywood for a reason. It might be like China trying to stop the runaway production of Chinese food, Detroit marketing itself as the place to make ho-hum cars, or Bourdeaux billing itself as the place to make wine. Actually, it sort of does. And that's Alarcon's point: In this day and age, L.A. should be fighting back when it comes to runaway movie shoots.

"The film industry is a crucial piece of our economic engine, creating thousands of middle-class jobs for our residents and pumping tens of billions of dollars in the economy each year, and we must fight to ensure we keep production local," Alarcon states. "Los Angeles needs an entity that can promote our city as a premiere filming destination ... "

Alarcon's office states that Hollywood has a $57 billion per year impact on the local economy, but that local film shoots have decreased by half since 1996, and 41 percent of TV pilot productions were done outside of L.A. last year alone.

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Strangely, L.A. does have of a quasi film commission, FilmLA. But the private organization, created jointly by the city and county governments, focuses on facilitating and processing permits for location shoots in the region. It doesn't necessarily lobby studios to film here the way, say, the BC Film Commission tries to draw productions to Vancouver. California has a film commission that focuses on drawing productions statewide.

But L.A. has no arm to pull back against the many locale-based marketing offices across North America that often provide tax breaks, easy permitting and other incentives to lure high-dollar productions and some of the jobs they help to create.

Alarcon asked the city's chief legislative analyst to look at how other cities fund their film commissions and get back to him with ideas about how to pay for such an office (at a time, we'll note, when the city is operating in the red).


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