Nebraska spreads ad net as far as Cannes

Nebraska spreads ad net as far as Cannes

“Election” writer-director Alexander Payne, Omaha’s film poster boy, could be the ideal calling card for Nebraska’s film officer Laurie Richards on her inaugural trip to Cannes.

Payne, who’s tired of the cookie-cutter L.A. and New York settings in film, selected his hometown of Omaha to give the feature a more personal and autobiographical feel, and “to capture a sense of reality in both visuals and the sound.”

Richards refers to Payne as “our golden boy” because of the filmmaker’s loyalty to his Nebraska roots. “Citizen Ruth,” Payne’s debut feature film was shot entirely in Omaha. Richards hopes to lure other industry professionals to the Great Plains and sees Cannes as an economically feasible means to advertise.

“The state understands the importance of marketing globally. And it’s a small price to pay to be included in the Cannes directory,” said Richards, who will be in the Assn. of Film Commissioners Intl. booth at the MITIC Pavilion and will participate in a filming-on-location panel.

Omaha has film-appreciative city and county officials, a strong crew base and affordable hotels, in addition to Midwest Express direct flights to Omaha with all first-class seating, added Kathy Sheppard, Omaha’s film commissioner.

“The airline even offers fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies,” Sheppard said.

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Video Symphony, a Burbank media-training academy specializing in educating film and video industry professionals, has announced the startup of “Boot-Up!,” a young-adult scholarship program.

Twenty-four full scholarships in addition to 90 at 55% of coverage will be awarded to Los Angeles-area students, ages 16 to 23.

The 160-hour comprehensive program will teach students the fundamentals of digital craftsmanship in Avid editing, 3-D animation, DVD pre-mastering, audio processing, Web site construction, imaging and graphics.

Sally O’Steen, Video Symphony’s director of program development, acknowledged the prohibitive expense for students who want to learn, as well as for high schools or colleges who want to offer the sophisticated software and systems training .

“We’re in the community mainly training professionals. Let’s get these kids in, too. We can bridge the gap,” O’Steen said.

For more info, call Mike Flanagan, prez, (818) 552-1591, O’Steen, (818) 505-1231; for contact via e-mail: info@videosymphony.com/ sosteen@videosymphony.com.

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The South Pasadena City Council recently passed legislation designed to turn the tide of declining area film production.

“There is no question that production is down throughout the Los Angeles area. It is incumbent on us locally to do all we can to get smart about this industry,” said Cody G. Cluff, president, Entertainment Industry Development Corp. (EIDC).

The EIDC and Warner Bros. worked closely with South Pasadena officials to reduce filming fees, speed the processing of permits by city staff from 72 to 48 hours, and assign police and fire officers based on need rather than requirement.

The entities also worked together to reduce the notification period from 72 to 24 hours and simplify procedures such as signature requirements for approval to film in a specific area, determine noise restrictions (such as gunfire or explosions) on a case-by-case basis and limit the imposition of an evening curfew on filming to residential areas only, since commercial areas are less impacted after sundown.

The new rules are effective immediately. “It’s rare to encounter a community that actively solicits the industry’s input on filming. South Pasadena clearly wants to encourage filming, but also has taken into account the concerns of its residents. Warner Bros., like others in our industry, wants to film in Southern California. All we ask is that we be given a fair set of rules to work under,” said Michael Walbrecht, director of studio and production affairs for Warner Bros.