Expo location ticks L.A.

A brouhaha is brewing at the upcoming Location Expo, with the city of Los Angeles deciding to set up its display in a 30-by-30-foot tent outside the Expo after it failed to get proper space within the convention.

Expo officials are none too happy about it, because they claim they offered space to the city for the event, which begins Saturday at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and runs through Monday.

The situation began several months ago when the city’s film office was in flux due to a mayoral election that cleared out the two top city film positions, which had been held by Beth Kennedy and Charles Weisenberg.

While incoming mayor Richard Riordan was setting up shop, the deadline to apply for a spot in Location Expo lapsed. In the interim, the California State Film Commission interceded and asked the Assn. of Film Commissioners Intl. to reserve a spot near them for the city of L.A.

That did not happen, though, and new assistant deputy mayor/film liaison Cody Cluff was told there was no more room.

When Cluff was not able to secure what he termed proper space within the state commission booth — the city was offered standing space, but no room to put up literature — city officials decided they would set up an L.A. tent outside the Santa Monica courthouse, next door to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

“At that point, we were contacted by the Expo officials who offered us table space in one of the back tents,” Cluff said. “For a city that has 80% of the filming in the state of the California, not to mention some 50% to 60% of filming nationwide, we just didn’t feel that would really work.”

Cluff’s decision apparently angered AFCI officials, who issued a terse statement Wednesday.

AFCI said city officials have “incorrectly claimed that they were somehow excluded, due to space limitations, from participating in the show. In fact, they were contacted by AFMA regarding space well in advance of the show. They declined all offers.

“AFCI has always welcomed the participation of the California film commissions, and has tremendous respect for Los Angeles and its well-earned position as a hub for the entertainment industry. On behalf of our members, we call on Los Angeles film officials to take the space that was offered, and to join with us to make this the most productive trade show ever.”

AFCI prexy Leigh von der Esch, who issued the statement, said late Wednesday that efforts had been made to reconfigure the tent to make room for the city’s exhibition.

Cluff said the city remains committed to its tent location.

“They wanted to stick us on a tabletop in a back tent while they take our filming dollars away,” he said. “We didn’t feel that was appropriate, but our decision to set up a tent certainly was not meant to cause anyone heartburn.”

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