By Patricia Shanks. www.shanksforwriting.com
A rosy future and the film-friendly nature of Orange County were recurrent themes at the February 19 Media Alliance Of Orange County event hosted by the elegant Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach and featuring special guest speaker Executive Director of the California Film Commission Amy Lemisch.
Orange County Film Commissioner Janice Arrington set the stage for Lemisch, providing important informative facts. According to just-released Motion Picture Association of America statistics collected from 2010 from the six major film studios, Orange County ranks third in film studio spending among the counties in California. The dollars earned in the OC from studio expenditures in 2010 went to cities, hotels and vendors (for supplies, gasoline, food, permits/fees), and totaled more than $105 million. More than 2,400 local businesses received these payments during the year.
“Our film industry here is booming,” said Arrington, who shared that right now Orange County is the preferred filming location for numerous TV commercials and corporate videos, as well as for dozens of reality shows, many webisodes, a few motion pictures, and a handful of studio-backed television pilots. In addition, she said that the major film studios in Los Angeles County pay salaries to more than 6,700 workers who reside in the OC, with wages for a year totaling more than $372 million (according to MPAA statistics for 2010).
Recent numbers are even more enticing. The Warner Brothers film “Hangover 3,” which closed down Highway 73 for two days in October 2012, also generated revenue of $317,870 for Orange County businesses. The production spent $164,838 on location fees, $13,760 for city and county permits, $10,000 for equipment and $17,216 to house personnel in four hotels. To make sure the film shoot went safely and smoothly, off-duty OC government personnel (police, Caltrans staff, fire officials) were hired for $73,834. Another feature, Disney Studios’ “Saving Mr. Banks”, starring Tom Hanks, filmed at Disneyland. Local revenue from the project came to approximately $125,000, and was paid to vendors, equipment providers, police and hotels.
Production is moving closer. Arrington highlighted some of the more than 40 productions currently working in Los Angeles that are scouting and using OC sites. Among them are “Parks and Recreation,” “Modern Family,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “1600 Penn,” “Graceland,” and “Star Trek 2,” the popular feature’s sequel. Reality shows seek our wide variety of filming sites and support services. Shows include “Top Chef,” “Supernanny” and “The Biggest Loser,” among others. “The Real Housewives of Orange County” is enjoying its eighth season working in Orange County.
California Film Commission Executive Director Amy Lemisch provided sobering but promising information. Lemisch is charged with working to retain, increase and facilitate production throughout the State. She explained how the Commission is working diligently to do this by
“If ten feature films leave California, we lose $106 million in State tax revenues,” explained Lemisch, who also stated that over 40 states offer lucrative incentives. “California dominance in film production is eroding,” she said. “We need to turn ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.”instituting tax credits and incentives. Tax credits of twenty to twenty-five percent are being offered to productions most likely to flee the State. Lemisch said that independent projects will receive about twenty-three percent of the pie. Tax credits are allocated by lottery. This year, applications are being accepted beginning June 3, 2013.
Further efforts of the California Film Commission include facilitating more local filming, streamlining and reducing or eliminating permitting fees, attempts to standardize fees, and supporting and regularly communicating closely with local field offices.
Lemisch recognized that Orange County is a popular mecca for production, noting that Crystal Cove and Bolsa Chica, Huntington and Doheny State Beaches are heavily utilized locations. She acknowledged the overall importance of Orange County to the State and to the film industry.
Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort Director of Marketing Scott O’Hanlon added a bit of levity and his support, saying that the local hotels are all film-friendly. “Our special effects department even produced wind and rain for you tonight,” joked O’Hanlon referring to the evening’s inclement weather.
Media Alliance President Anne Ganguzza provided an overview of the MAOC, calling for new members and detailing benefits of membership, including the new website and exciting SEO capability. Arrington and Ganguzza made the same point in their presentations–that we need a larger representation of businesses as MAOC members, and that we all need to share more in order to reap more of the benefits of local production. Lemisch confirmed their statements, noting that activity and visibility of productions generate interest and more production.
An impromptu call to the podium of location scout and Pacific Location Search Owner Liz Ervin buttoned up the evening. “I, personally, have seen an uptick in production and a huge uptick in commercials,” said Ervin. “This last month has been through the roof!”
Some of the special guests in attendance at the event included “The Real Housewives of Orange County” Producers James Wiser and Ken Shay and Production Manager Shawn Rodriguez, “The Glass House” Producer Scott Owens and Huntington Beach Film Commissioner Briton Saxton. Sponsors of the evening which joined with the Media Alliance included the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, the Huntington Beach Film Commission and the Los Angeles and Orange County Chapter of the Media Communications Association-International.
For more information about the Media Alliance of Orange County or to become a member, visit www.maoc.org .