Valley biz prod’n on rise

Area strongly connected to showbiz

Entertainment productions spent $6.4 billion in the San Fernando Valley during 1996, underscoring the area’s growing connection to one of California’s biggest industries, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley.

Vendors supplying productions with goods and services ranging from catering to digital effects consumed $3.5 billion.

Entertainment dollars statewide amounted to $27.6 billion. The vast majority of those funds, $25.6 billion, was spent in Los Angeles County.

The valley, which is part of Los Angeles, is home to a number of well-established studios, including Warner Bros., Universal Studios and the Walt Disney Co. in Burbank.

The rate of growth, particularly in western valley communities, surprised members of the alliance. In suburban Calabasas, for example, spending jumped nearly 76% to $89 million between 1992 and 1996, the report said.

“I think people are beginning to fully appreciate the significance of the San Fernando Valley’s position in the entertainment industry, but I don’t think anyone realized until now how widespread the activity was across the valley floor,” said William Allen, president of the alliance and former chief of MTM Studios.

The alliance reached its conclusions by taking statewide spending amounts compiled by the Motion Picture Association of America and sorting them by zip code.

Increased production activity has led to construction of soundstages such as the Ray Art Studios, a converted shampoo factory in the Canoga Park area.

Jim Thompson, head of Van Nuys-based Reel to Real location service, credits the abundance of industrial warehouses for the valley’s popularity in location filming.

“If there’s any building where they have parking and can access it, it’s almost guaranteed that we can find a production for it,” he said.