Wilson dodges exodus query

During a brief stop Monday at Location Expo in Santa Monica, Gov. Pete Wilson narrowly dodged the repeatedly asked question of just how badly the film industry has been hit by a mass production exodus to less expensive locales.

Wilson was among the projected record-breaking attendance of 6,000 people, according to final projections from the Assn. of Film Commissioners Intl. Last year’s total was 5,600 attendees. Day one was particularly heavy, with 2,500 attendees, followed by 1,800 on Sunday and the commissioners or projection of 1, 700 at the final day of the event.

While the governor wouldn’t comment directly on whether California red tape had driven players to places like Washington and Oregon, Wilson said, “We’re in competition, and that’s the way it should be.”

One unidentified indie filmmaker didn’t agree.

Complaining that Los Angeles and the state held smaller outfits to the same “rigorous standards” applied to studios, the filmer said he had to take his shoot to Tennessee.

Wilson replied that “there are 57 other counties” other than Los Angeles to shoot in, adding, “We’re eager to keep people like you in California.” The governor didn’t elaborate, however, and the filmmaker didn’t linger after the speech.

In general, Wilson said his office has already attempted to streamline production legislation in order to reduce time spent coordinating shooting permits.

“In many cases, we’ve assigned one person as the ‘good shepherd,’ ” Wilson said, adding that he was keenly aware that “in the case of filming, they have a bottom line.”

Wilson said it was “probably a good idea” for him to visit Los Angeles’ huge tent, which was right outside the Expo entrance, in competition with the booths inside. The city has complained that it was shut out of the Location Expo, though Expo officials deny the charge (Daily Variety, Feb. 24).

Wilson was introduced by thesp Alexandra Paul, who portrays the stalwart lifeguard opposite David Hasselhoff on “Baywatch.” Presenting Wilson with a team jacket embroidered with the beach series’ logo, she lauded California as “essential to the success” of the show.

“The whole world is entranced with California,” Paul said. “Especially in February, where I get to be on the beach, wearing my bathing suit.”

The Assn. of Film Commissioners reported that 187 commissions shared 146 booths at the event, while a record 33 affiliates showed their wares. Fourteen countries were represented at this year’s trade show, which is the last that will be administered by the American Film Marketing Assn. under the Location Expo banner.

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