Why do producers like filming in LA?
With California’s recent decision to improve its filming infrastructure, there is an industry-wide expectation that this will soon lead to LA buzzing again.
Joe Genier is currently executive producer of MTV’s hit series Teen Wolf. He is also the director and producer of horror feature The Secrets of Emily Blair which shot in Los Angeles last year.
According to Genier the best part of filming in LA is without a doubt the talent and depth of the crew base. “I have filmed in many different countries and many different states, but I don't think you could find a more seasoned, creative and knowledgeable crew than right here in LA.”
Another great part about filming in Los Angeles, says Genier, “is the proximity to gear. If you want a toy or gadget, or another five cameras for a stunt sequence, you can get it in exactly the amount of time it takes a driver to get to the vendor. Everything is just readily available, and sellers are always at the ready to help you get what you need”.
Equally enthusiastic is Jim Kleverwies, a freelance line producer who has worked in LA on HBO comedies Silicon Valley, The Comeback, and Togetherness (season 2).
Kleverwies agrees with Genier and says: “The depth and experience of the crew base, the accessibility of equipment and specialty tools, the abundance of proper stage space and functional studio lots is immensely helpful.”
Picking out other key attributes, he says: “The city and surrounding areas are incredibly diverse, and we have been able to shoot LA locations to double the east coast, south, and northern California.
“The consistency of weather and sunlight is very conducive to smooth filming conditions. The city, and the rest of the State, have also gone a long way to make the permitting process easier on companies, and the local authorities (police, fire department, etc) are very helpful and willing to work with productions.”
Foreign talent is equally enamoured with the city. Fabrik Entertainment CEO Henrik Bastin, originally from Sweden, is currently shooting the second season of Bosch, for Amazon Prime, on location in LA.
“Shooting in Los Angeles is a real treat,” he says, “many of us in this business choose to move here from far away because it is the hub for the creative industry in the world.
“This is where we live, plus working in LA means you have access to the best talent pool in the world; actors, crew, location scouts, costume designers, prop masters, anything you wish, they are all here and they are hands down the best in the world.”
Bastin also says that the city is extremely versatile and good looking on film and “if you expand just outside the city limits you find locations that look like Middle East mountain-ridges, old Western towns, you name it - a good location scout can find it here”.
One factor that keeps a lot of producers in LA is the movie ranches that offer a wealth of purpose-built locations out at the edges of the city. But downtown LA is also popular because of its ability to double for other US cities, most notably New York.
New York-based scripts such as The Amazing Spiderman, Taxi, NYPD Blue, Friends, Fame, CSI, Mad Men and Castle have all been shot in LA for many of the reasons cited above. Not to be overlooked either is the fact that many of the buildings and streets in LA are designed in a way that makes it easy for crews to get in and out, or, where necessary, the street can even be shut down.
A mine of information about locations in the city, not-for-profit organisation FilmL.A. is also an important part of keeping the relationship between the production industry and the local community on a positive footing. Location manager, Sam Glynn, said on the organisation: “I know many on the staff at FilmL.A. work the same long hours we do. They are dedicated individuals who tirelessly strive for the same goal we have; to keep the filming and production payroll here in LA where our families and homes are.”
It is down to organisations like these that LA can now boost about its improved filming incentives and a solid infrastructure. The once so famous hub of film glamour seems poised to once-again lead the film and TV industry as one of the world’s main filming location. It is as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said: “This city is ready for the next great American film to be shot on LA soil.”