Officials from six counties in Southern California may be moving closer to coming up with a common, regionalized film permit process that could streamline and ease the filming process.
One of the trials of filming in Los Angeles and its surrounding cities has been the swamp of red tape filmmakers must attend to as they move from city to city, county to county.
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Since Mayor Richard Riordan has made it one of his priorities to keep filming business in Los Angeles, it’s not surprising that local government entities are now hopping on the bandwagon.
The latest to discuss coming aboard is the Southern California Assn. of Governments (SCAG), which represents local governments from six counties and 118 city jurisdictions. The counties include Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and Imperial.
For the last couple of months, a SCAG committee has been meeting with the state film commission and film industry reps to discuss the possibility of those six counties drawing up a streamlined film permit that would do away with all the various nonconforming ordinances each area currently has in place.
The groups are holding a final meeting today, and, if they decide that a regional permit process is acceptable, will send the plan on to the SCAG regional council. The council would then look at the proposal on March 3.
If SCAG were to sign on to such a plan, it would make a powerful government ally as the plan then makes its way through the County Board of Supervisors and through the various city councils of the cities involved.
The film industry, meanwhile, is looking at the plan with guarded optimism.
“If all of these areas can pull it off without adding any extra layers of bureacracy to the permit process, or any extra money to it, then I think it’s a great idea,” said Kathleen Milnes, veepee of the Public Affairs Coalition of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. “But we’re concerned to some degree about any added costs to film, especially for smaller production companies.”
Yet Milnes, who has been involved in this process, said the plan at this stage is not only to streamline the permit process within a wide geographical area, but to also scale down costs.