Filmmakers Get an Easier Ride Navigating Through L.A. River Bureaucracy | KCET
Filmmakers Get an Easier Ride Navigating Through L.A. River Bureaucracy
It's no secret that the most challenging aspect of working along the Los Angeles River is making sense of its many jurisdictions. Depending on what specific spot you're at on the river, you may be talking to wildly different agencies. As this scoping document for the Los Angeles River Masterplan reveals, the river is overseen by cities, 14 agencies, not to mention public utilities and companies. Even the smallest of requests can be a major headache, as Alex Ventura of the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council points out in a previous post. It seems, however, that there is one constituent base along the Los Angeles River that is getting an easier ride than most: filmmakers.
"Film L.A. is a non-profit, founded in 1995 by city and county of L.A. when it decided it wanted to cut the red tape and bureaucracy of filmmaking in Los Angeles," says Philip Sokoloski, Vice President of Integrated Communications at the agency. It acts as a one-stop shop for permitting filmmaking throughout Los Angeles and Santa Monica. "We're a central point of contact for filmmakers. We interface with various departments and agencies that need to be contacted about filming," says Sokoloski.
Indeed, Film L.A.'s efficiency is impressive. Their system is streamlined. Everything begins online, where a step-by-step guide that first walks you through city and county jurisdictions. After choosing your location, it encourages you to give Film L.A. a call to sit down and discuss the specifics of your shoot with their production planning team, who can save requesters some time and money by sharing their stored knowledge of permit requirements. With the necessary information on hand, the site reminds you to procure the necessary type of insurance, and then leads you to their Online Permit System, which the non-profit developed itself.
From there, applicants can keep track of their permit request approvals online. "The system creates a record of your permit process. It's also used by our partners in the Los Angeles Police Department, who can sign on from any web browser. Film L.A. has also provided them with iPads to approve requests," says Sokoloski. The nature of the permitting process also gives the fire departments advanced notice of filming. They're required to do a spot-check of the premises whenever filming occurs.
Aside from the online system, the request will be assigned to a permit coordinator, who becomes the sole contact person for the applicant. The coordinator will fill in the details of additional permits or requirements needed to proceed with your case. According to Sokoloski, the coordinator is dedicated to your case, so much so that he'll help you account for modifications in permits, and even resolving issues arising from filming in the community. The coordinator is available 24 hours a day once your process has begun. Film L.A. employs about ten of these permit coordinators. About 30 additional people are also on the field daily to make sure permits are processed, and communities are notified of any filming that would occur in their neighborhoods.
How much time do you need to get all of this done? Getting permits for filming in the Los Angeles River can take as little as 72 hours, according to Sokoloski. "Filming on the Los Angeles River gets complicated rather quickly, but we exist to make it easier." The turnaround time is unsurprisingly fast, given that in filmmaking, timing is everything.
Film L.A. also manages to be self-sustaining. A majority of its funding comes from the permit coordination fees and community relations services it provides to production companies. It seems Film L.A. knows that when it comes to business, there are those who won't hesitate to pay for good service.
The non-profit's successful model now begs that question: can Los Angeles give itself the same opportunity when it comes to increasing access on the river?
A cursory look at the Los Angeles River Revitalization Masterplan indicates that there were plans to make working on the Los Angeles River easier by establishing a Los Angeles River Authority, which would "serve as the principal entity with authority and responsibility for River reconstruction, right-of-way management and maintenance, assuming responsibilities for public liability, permitting, and land development." Where are we on building that agency now?
Check out a montage of films shot in the L.A. River:
[field_kl_featured_media]Federal Coronavirus Bailout Program is 'Frustrating And Disappointing' For Some Small Business Owners
Many small business owners that have had to close or lay off employees due to coronavirus still have no idea whether they will receive loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
Unless politicians strengthen emergency tenant protection laws to include forgiveness for back rent owed, experts and advocates warn that Los Angeles (and California) could see a huge surge in homelessness in the near future.
When the "Safer at Home" orders went into effect, there was worry for the community's seniors, a cohort that tends to shop on an as-needed basis, often on foot, in the few dozen square blocks in and around Chinatown or Lincoln Heights.
Fifteen more deaths from coronavirus were reported today in Los Angeles County, raising the total to 147, while the overall number of cases went up by 420 as the county entered what officials expect to be one of the worst weeks in terms of virus spread.
- 1 of 259
- next ›
The global demand for oil and gas has long-lasting impacts on the communities that supply it.
The global demand for avocados is having a devastating impact on a drought-stricken community in Chile.
Following groups like “Guardians of the Forest,” we explore illegal lumber poaching in the forests of Brazil and Oregon, where citizens and scientists are working together to combat the illegal lumber trade.
The realities of milk production are forcing dairy communities across the globe to rethink the dairy production process.
Solar power is changing lives in unexpected places. This episode visits with unique solar power training programs in Zanzibar and Los Angeles.
- 1 of 9
- next ›