L.A. Center Studios’ biz reflects local prod’n growth

Los Angeles Center Studios has secured a 95% occupancy rate during its first six months of operation at the site of the former Unocal Corp. headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

Site, opened in late July with six 18,000-square-foot soundstages and 450,000 square feet of office space, has attracted shoots for commercials, musicvideos, television shows and features including “Mission: Impossible II,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Numbers” and “Bounce.”

The facility owners said the strong occupancy rate reflects the large amount of filming in the downtown area, which offers a mix of corporate centers, civic buildings, warehouses, freeways, entertainment and retail districts.

Operators of the project recently reopened the 400-seat auditorium, where Unocal shareholder meetings were held. Site represents continued expansion of local entertainment production, despite the lure of low-cost foreign sites. Local growth has come outside traditional centers in Burbank and Hollywood to such venues as Los Angeles Center Studios, Raleigh Studios Manhattan Beach and Ray-Art Studios in Canoga Park.

Los Angeles Center Studios also reported it has signed animator Zoom Cartoons and Internet movie producer Cinema Electric to long-term leases. The operators of the facility plan to add six more soundstages over the next 18 months.

“Our goal is to create a studio campus which will integrate a cross section of film and Internet companies into a dynamic entertainment community — and it’s already happening,” said co-owner Stephan Smith. The developers are Hollywood Location Co., Bristol Group Inc. and investment partnership Smith, Hricik and Munselle.

* * *

Simi Valley Film Council has its own good news: The council, formed under the umbrella of the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce, is about to celebrate its first anniversary.

Area filming includes TV and features such as “Men in Black,” “Forever Young” and “Gross Pointe Blank.”

* * *

There’s still time to enter the first Nebraska Screenwriting Competition. Deadline is April 3 for entries with storylines and 85% of the script’s locations showcasing the state.

For rules and application forms, fax requests to (402) 476-4356 or visit the Nebraska Film Office Web site at http://www.filmnebraska.org.

* * *

Audio Engineering Society exec director Roger Furness has announced the AES has skedded it 15th annual U.K. Conference entitled, “Moving Audio: Pro Audio Networking and Transfer.” The event will be held May 8-9 at Church House, Westminster, London.

For info: http://www.aes.org/sections/uk/moving_audio; telephone: (44) 1628-663725; fax: (44) 1628-667002.

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)

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