Mayor Names Tom Sherak L.A. Film Czar

Mayor Names Tom Sherak L.. Film

Mayor Eric Garcetti has appointed former president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak as L.A. Film Czar, effective immediately.

Sherak is the high-profile figure that Garcetti promised he would appoint to lobby Sacramento and promote production in Los Angeles.

“Tom will lead our campaign for production incentives in Sacramento and is empowered to work across city departments to make L.A. the best possible location for production,” Garcetti said in a statement.

Sherak said, “I look forward to helping Mayor Garcetti stop runaway production, increase state production tax credits and city City Hall red tape.”

Sherak was previously president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and currently is a consultant for Skydance Productions, One Three Media and other entertainment companies. He was a partner at Revolution Films, and consulted for Marvel Studios on films such as “Iron Man.” He served as chairman of the 20th Century Fox Film Group.

Garcetti pledged to take a number of steps to boost production in the city when he was sworn in as mayor on June 30. Calling the flight of production to other states and countries an “emergency,” he said that he would appoint a film czar, to streamline the production process in Los Angeles and perhaps seek expanded production tax incentives in Sacramento.

Garcetti said he wanted a high-profile person to fill the job. Sherak’s experience in the industry certainly will help open doors to studio moguls and filmmakers, but he also will have the tough task of convincing Northern California lawmakers that additional tax support is needed for the industry given so many other competing interests. Although the city has taken steps to try to retain TV drama pilots, Garcetti said that it was the state incentives that make a real difference.

Sherak, whose title will be senior adviser and director, will get at least one staff member in the Entertainment Industry and Production Office. That staffer will be tasked with some of the nuts and bolts problems of production, like smoothing specific permitting problems or disputes between a resident and a production shooting in the neighborhood.

A goal of Garcetti’s search for a film czar was to find a high profile figure in the industry, and a list of more than a dozen names was bandied about, although not all of those on the list were contacted. Among the names on the list were Barry Meyer and Sherry Lansing, according to sources, but neither was approached.

Still to be worked out is how the city production office will work in conjunction with an existing entity that was formed in the 1990s. In an effort to streamline the permitting process, city and county location permits were centralized into one organization, FilmLA, a nonprofit entity.

In the announcement, Garcetti’s office noted that FilmLA reported that Los Angeles has seen “significant declines” in location feature production and TV dramas. Garcetti authored legislation to waive city fees for TV pilots, with the aim of shows choosing to shoot in the city permanently.

In its most recent report, FilmLA said that on-location production increased 8.6% in the second quarter compared to the same period a year earlier. TV dramas were up 29.3%, but still lagged its average over the period of the past five years.

Ted Johnson contributed to this report.

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  1. Clay Van Sickle says:

    Thank you for joining the conversation Philip. I understand that Film L.A. is not intending to run filming out of town, I truly do. The out of state incentives ARE a huge problem in filming here for big shows and small shows alike. However, the reality on the ground for the hundreds of small budget shows is that Film L.A. is a huge cost in their overall budgets. You state yourself that the flat fee isn’t really flat. $625 plus the notification cost $155 kicks the cost up to $780 at least. Then add in the basics of any action movie (stunts, guns, special FX) and suddenly the costs go through the roof. These are the exponential costs I am referencing.

    One thing I would truly appreciate Philip, is if you could point us to a complete breakdown of all of the fees that Film L.A. can charge on a permit so that we could all see the full picture of permit costs.

    You make a good point as well that many of your clients set the rates and necessity for Fire personnel and Police presence on set. That is not something that Film L.A. controls, but something that this new Film Czar must take into account. This is a cost that needs to be absorbed by the city or county just like it is nearly everywhere else in the country.

    I hope Mr. Sherak looks at the problems that filming is having here in Southern California not only from the top (State Film Incentives) but also from the bottom (permit fees and extraneous costs from the city and county).

    I look forward to your response Philip.

    Thank you.

  2. I work at FilmL.A. and have been following this conversation thread. Unfortunately, Mr. Van Sickle’s comments about FilmL.A. miss the mark. FilmL.A. isn’t in the business of running film productions out of town. As the not-for-profit film office for the City and County of L.A., our mission is to make it easier to film in Los Angeles, not harder, and certainly not more expensive.

    Many filmmakers point to cost as a factor in production leaving Los Angeles. Cost is a factor, but one that has much more to do with the availability of out of state film incentives than it does with permit fees. FilmL.A. charges a flat $625 per permit — not thousands of dollars — which allows filming from one day to two weeks at up to ten locations city-wide. Only once in fifteen years has this fee been raised, and then only to match the cost of doing business. Notification fees start at $155 per location — and rise only if the filming will affect a large number of homes or businesses.

    I should also point out that as a contractor to 19 different jurisdictions including the City and County of L.A., FilmL.A. is charged with implementing its government clients’ rules. We don’t set them. Local jurisdictions determine for themselves which activities require police and fire review, and charge accordingly for those services.

    We welcome all with questions about filming in Los Angeles to visit us at http://www.filmla.com or contact us at 213.977.8600. Our Production Planning Team is standing by with suggestions to help minimize your inconvenience and cost, and help make Los Angeles work better for you.

    • Frank DeSade says:

      Actually, Mr. Van Sickle’s comments are dead on the mark, and he is actually being quite kind. EVERY producer and director that I know, work with, and speak with, has the same thing to say: “I will never shoot in Los Angeles, or anywhere where FilmLA has jurisdiction, again.” That is not an opinion, an observation, or anything else, it is a FACT. FilmLA is, and always has been, one of the most corrupt organizations in Los Angeles. All you have to do is a little research to know this. The organization has been gutted and reorganized before because of charges of corruption, and the same needs to be done again.

      “Not-for-profit film office,” “make it easier not harder to film in Los Angeles,” “make it certainly not more expensive” – BULLSHIT! Who are you kidding? Certainly not the producers and directors that try to film here!

      FilmLA tries to saddle every production with as many fees as they possibly can. When it comes to any production that wants to do any kind of special effects, blank gunfire, pyrotechnics or stunts, they add on as many fees as they can, whether they are warranted or not. Most of the FilmLA staff don’t even have a basic understanding of film terminology. Half of them don’t even know the difference between blank gunfire and pyrotechnics, or stunts and special effects! They make up prices, such as the “notification” fees, depending on who you are talking to at their offices! Their guidelines for fees are ridiculous. Production companies used to be able to do their own notifications. Now, FilmLA won’t allow them to, charges them to do it, with an average of $1,500 per location, and usually more! They charge for spot checks that never happen, and for “monitors” who are totally unnecessary. That’s what Fire Safety Officers and Police Officers are for, not “monitors” from an organization that has no right to send monitors to any film set. This is just more extortion, and film makers know it! I have had this happen to me, and so have many of my associates.

      I am a producer, writer and director, and will never shoot another one of my films here in Los Angeles. Even though I have the budget to afford it. I don’t like being shaken down. I sincerely hope that Mr. Sherak does something about FilmLA, so that film and television production can maybe return here.

  3. Clay Van Sickle says:

    Bill is right, Unions are not our problem. Film L.A. is the problem. This organization has run 20 productions out of town in the last month. And those are only the ones I know about. They have convoluted rules that don’t seem to be written down anywhere so that you can confirm that they are not simply giving you the run around. They charge in some cases $4000.00 for a permit to fire blanks. $4000.00!? That isn’t a permit fee, it is extortion! Considering one of the shows had a total budget of $30,000.00 you can see why they simply shot somewhere else. This has happened to three shows in the last month that I am aware of.

    Add on the fact that L.A. requires Police and Fire Safety Advisors be paid by production and it is easy to see why no one wants to shoot here. Nearly every other city in the country and state provide police and fire services as a city service that we all pay for with our taxes. They also now require a Film L.A. employee to do notifications of filming. This recent change has added thousands of dollars to permit fees. In the very recent past, production companies were allowed to notify neighbors themselves, using employees they already had on staff.

    Putting production companies, especially the smaller shows that are the lifeblood of Los Angeles, on the hook for all of these outrageous costs is the real reason that production is running everywhere but here. Step one in getting filming back into Los Angeles, get rid of Film L. A. and drop permit fees to no more than $100. If it doesn’t make financial sense to shoot here, no one will. That is the bottom line.

  4. Bill Thomas says:

    Unions are not the problem– wages and benefits costs are the same in major production centers, and the entertainment unions have worked hard to keep production here in Los Angeles. If unions were a problem, New York would not be currently jammed with film and television production. The real difference: production incentives. The Mayor is correct in noting that California’s biggest challenges are due to highly competitive tax incentives in place in states around the country. California needs to expand our incentive program in order to stay competitive, or we risk watching one of our signature industries walk out the door. Tom Sherak and the City of Los Angeles have a major challenge ahead of them in Sacramento, and I wish them well. Let’s work together so that Los Angeles and film and television production don’t end up looking like Detroit and the auto industry.

  5. Dick Delson says:

    The problem with filming in L.A. is the cost. Unions cripple production.

  6. Maria D. Garcia says:

    Tom is a true gentleman. I am honored to have worked for him & Fox, in the past, for so many years.

    Miss you Tom and I hope you and your family are all well!

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