Mixed news for L.A. lensing

While feature pic lensing dipped slightly, television and commercial production soared in Los Angeles during the first seven months this year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Entertainment Industry Development Corp.

From January through July, feature film production dropped 3% to 7,207 days, compared to 7,450 days in 1996. Television lensing, however, increased 31% to 6,085 days, compared to 4,672 days last year. Commercial production improved 18% to 4,278 days.

“The trend in feature films has been very consistent. Most of the studios have scaled back,” said Cody Cluff, prexy of EIDC, Los Angeles’ film liaison and permit office. “We have more than made up for that in commercial and television production.”

Overall Los Angeles production through July, including features, TV, music, photo and student lensing, increased 5% to 26,339 days, compared to 25,102 last year.

NEARLY A DOZEN Western state film commissions as well as officials of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service will meet to discuss film issues at a conference skedded Sept. 9 and 10 in Salt Lake City.

The states’ film plan have several concerns on their agenda.

“We as film commissioners would argue production does not have to be at the expense of environment,” said Leigh von der Esch, head of the Utah Film Commission, who will host the confab.

“Timber, mining and grazing are all resource-depleting. All a filmmaker has to do is take a photo,” Von der Esch added.

Government officials say in the last five to seven years, lensing of feature pics, TV and particularly commercials on federal land has jumped roughly one-third from the 1980s. But fed staff cutbacks have made it harder for location managers to get questions answered and permits issued.

Film commissioners say with more lensing staying in Los Angeles, the remaining states are trying to smooth the process of moving production to the great outdoors, where Hollywood studios or Los Angeles streets can’t necessarily compete.

“It is particularly important for those of us in the Western states because a large majority of our lands are public, therefore (the public lands) are some of our most interesting options,” said Linda Taylor Hutchison, director of the New Mexico Film Office and prexy of the Assn. of Film Commissioners Intl. “Having a good working relationship with federal and state agencies and the film industry is critical for our ability to promote filming in our jurisdictions.”

“We are trying to figure out how to ease the burden (of government officials) by utilizing volunteers,” said Suzy Kellett, director of the Washington State Film Office.

IN CELEBRATION of Dr. Crane’s 1,000th radio show, next month Paramount Network TV plans to take “Frasier” on location to Seattle for the program’s 100th episode, sources close to the production say.

“It will showcase Seattle, and that’s a wonderful thing for us,” said Kellett of the Washington film office.

Par officials have declined to comment on the details of the episode or the road trip.

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