$1 mil in state funds will keep workers current

$1 mil in state funds will keep workers current

Universal Studios has entered into one of the largest employee training contracts in the entertainment industry — $1,101,672 from the State of California’s Employment Training Panel (ETP).

ETP will supply the funds while subcontractors, the Helms Group and RSL & Associates, provide the training and administration.

“Universal had previously participated in a training consortium with other companies under the Helms Group, but decided we’d like to do one on our own,” said Marissa Andrata of the Universal Management and Organizational Development Team.

Universal’s aim, according to the contract, is “to keep pace with new technologies, changing audience tastes, emerging markets and global demands.” To that end, emerging technology, network management, leadership & management and office automation will be the primary focus for non-union personnel. Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements will be included in a subsequent training phase.

* * *

Leigh von der Esch, an AFCI director and Utah’s exec director of the Film Commission, will replace Ward Emling, AFCI first veepee and director of the Mississippi Film Office, as moderator for “Locations Around the World,” a panel focusing on fee-free location production expertise and global availability of film commission services, at ShowBiz Expo Los Angeles, 11:30 a.m. Friday, June 12 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

“The industry is going global,” said Von der Esch. “We want producers to know they can call a commission in Texas or Scotland and have a positive experience.”

Panelists will include Jorge Santoyo, National Film Commission — Mexico; Barbara Edols, Pacific Film & Television Commission, Australia; and Benoit Caron, Commission Nationale du Film France.

AFCI has more than 250 members in 23 countries and better than 50 are set to exhibit at the three-day event.

* * *

Tennessee recently wrapped production on “Rocket Boys,” which now moves into post-production and is expected to be released this fall by Universal. Joe Johnston (“Jumanji”) directs, Chuck Gordon and Larry Franco produce, and Laura Dern and Chris Owen star.

The pic, based upon a true story, revolves around a young man’s inspiration after the launch of Sputnik and his dream to leave his coal mining W. Va. home town.

Shot entirely on location in Tennessee, the production launched at least $6 million into the local economy, employed more than 104 permanent crew members from the state and more than 2,000 extras from the Knoxville/Oak Ridge area.

* * *

Gov. Pete Wilson and the California Transportation Commission have presented a $47.7 million transportation spending plan, which includes highway improvements which will benefit Glendale and Burbank entertainment interests.

The state plans improvements on the Ventura Freeway at Hollywood Way in Burbank and to the Golden State Freeway at Western Avenue in Glendale. Also provided for are upgrades in the Golden State Freeway at Empire Avenue, near Burbank’s media district.

The funding is part of the recently adopted $8.3 billion State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

The Governor worked on the plan with a coalition of area studios and networks, including reps from Disney, Warner Bros. and NBC.

* * *

Forty-one students from the N. Carolina School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking premiered their 16mm shorts to Hollywood’s professional film community June 4 at the AFI’s Mark Goodson Screening Room. Martha and Dino De Laurentiis also hosted a reception for the students, L.A. alumni and special guests.

* * *

Atlantic City named Academy Award-winning actress and Northern New Jersey native Olympia Dukakis to its 14-member Atlantic City Film Festival advisory board. The fest takes place Oct. 21 – 25, ’98.

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