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Showing posts with label FilmLA policies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FilmLA policies. Show all posts

February 26, 2018

Altadena Filming Committee posts a filming FAQ

The Altadena Town Council's Filming Committee has posted a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) document about filming in Altadena.

The FAQ provides Altadena Council members, neighbors and businesses a reference for how LA County runs its filming permit policies and processes. The FAQ also provides advice for those who may have concerns about a filming in their area.

The Altadena filming FAQ is the first document of its kind in the LA County. Until now there has not been a publicly available document that details how LA County manages and enforces filming permits.

Click here to accesses the FAQ.

The FAQ was prepared with information gathered from a year-long series of meetings with Los Angeles County officials. According to Anne Chomyn, Filming Committee Chair, the committee is continuing its work. "We will be updating the FAQ periodically as more information about location filming comes in."

The FAQ includes information on the following topics:
  • Who approves permits?
  • Are there any limits on filming?
  • What are permitted conditions and how are they enforced?
  • Who has access to the filming permit?
  • Are there Special Filming Conditions for Altadena?
  • Who gets notified about a film shoot?
  • What's the role of onsite law enforcement?
There's also a contact list for County officials who play a role in the film permitting and enforcement process.

It is recommended that anyone with questions should check the website for the latest version of the document.

August 4, 2017

CEO responds to Filming Committee Report: Effective remedy? Bland reassurance?

Back in the old school days, we would explain away any inexplicable coincidence with a standard refrain:
24 hours in a day. 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not.
(The last phrase was always recited in unison.)
If you happen to be interested in the County's management of filming, consider this intriguing coincidence:
On May 2nd the County Supervisors instructed LA County Counsel "to review... and provide recommended ammendments to the County Code, as, to ensure...enforcement authority to address violations of the film permitting process..."

By pure chance, on June 20th, the Altadena Filming Committee submitted its End of Year Report. The report included recommendations that addressed issues and concerns about filming raised by Altadenans.
Here was an a rare opportunity for the Town Council to influence the formulation of new County Codes — after all, we are just forty thousand in a County of ten million. On June 21st, the Council voted to send the Filming Committee's report to Supervisor Barger. Barger then forwarded that report to the County CEO with the request that they review the report and provide their own inputs.

On July 5th, The County CEO sent a response to the Town Council. AltadenaFilming has obtained a copy of that letter thanks to the generous cooperation of the County's Film Liaison.*

In a nutshell, the CEO's letter said that the County will "take into consideration the Altadena Town Council Filming Committee's recommendations" and then provided "additional input" to be used in the amendment process.

Here is that 'input' excerpted directly from the CEO's letter:
  • The following is considered when evaluating a permit:
    1. Location, duration and frequency of filming at the hosting property, including historical use
    2. Location, duration and frequency of activity near the requested location, including parking areas
    3. Proximity of concurrent filming activities and other activities such as street maintenance
    4. Production company size, number of filming days requested and proposed activities, including parking
    5. Any other criteria that may be relevant to the specific situation
  • Generally, the CHP or the Sheriff are required for any filming in the Altadena area for safety and/or filming related activity, including parking.
  • FiImLA currently maintains notes regarding specific community issues, concerns or complaints related to such issues as generator placement and parking restrictions at specific locations.
  • FiImLA has a review process in place for frequently used properties. Properties of concern a re currently flagged in FiImLA's On-Line Permitting System (OPS) and requests to film at these locations require additional review and discussion with a FiImLA Operations Manager (OM). The OM will direct the FiImLA Coordinator to contact affected stakeholders to discuss the filming request, and determine next steps in addressing concerns or potential issues.
  • The County requires that a Community Filming Survey be done for film permit requests that film more than five consecutive days in a row or outside of the normal filming hours. The radius to be surveyed is established by FiImLA based on the location, filming activity, and parking requirements. It is the responsibility of the Production Company to conduct the survey and return the responses back to FiImLA with enough time for FiImLA to evaluate the survey package and make permit adjustments as necessary. FiImLA can arrange review of Community Film Surveys at their office.
  • Riders are issued for minor changes to a film permit. Riders are not used to authorize late night or all-night shoots.
The list corresponds to the current practices often described in public meetings by FilmLA and other County representatives. If taken at face value, these practices might just be sufficient to remedy all the issues raised in the Filming Committee's End of Year Report. If that were true, why bother amending the County Code?

But, are these current practices really effective?

Last year NBC4 reported that, in 2015, FilmLA received nearly 3,000 complaints about filming. And, at the Altadena Town Hall on Filming this past Spring, over a hundred community members turned out to raise concerns.

If current practices were effective, why so many issues and concerns?

The CEO's list may provide a clue. The items on the list are heavy on discretion and light of the specifics that determine permit content and approval. For example: They use different criteria, like filming frequency to evaluate a permit application, but how are those criteria used? How frequent is too frequent? Is the evaluation arbitrary? They say that a law officer is generally required on a shoot? What are the grounds for an exception? In those exceptional cases, who ensures filming conditions are met? They point out that community surveys are required, but does the methodology warrant a reliable result? They say they maintain notes about community issues, but what end do they serve? If these notes are part of the decision process, who ensures these notes are accurate?

Without constraining specifics, the film permitting process is open ended, and the CEO's 'additional input' amounts to little more that a recital of bland reassurances — essentially an appeal to trust the status quo.

How could we tell? Is the current practice, as described in the CEO's list, effective practice or bland reassurance? More importantly, how could a conscientious staff attorney in the County Counsel's office tell?

Getting a few facts would go a long way towards getting things right. If AltadenaFilming found itself in the difficult position of formulating fair-minded amendments to the County Code, here's a few things we would want to know about the "additional input":
  • Are the specifics described in governing documents? If not, why not?
  • Are these requirements on the permitting process or are just informal guidance?
  • If these are requirements, how does the County currently ensure all the listed activities are performed?
  • How does the County currently determine if current practice is effective?
  • How does the County currently determine if issues like those documented in the End of Year Report are the result of insufficient enforcement tools?
There's a point to those questions: You cannot enforce a rule if you don't know what it is. You cannot improve a rule unless unless you know its intent. And, you cannot know if a rule meets its intended purpose unless you assess its effectiveness.

No telling what pressures might be pressing of the County Counsel. Perhaps they will have the independence to examine the underlying film permitting process as part of their effort to amend the County code. If they do, we hope they make those discoveries publicly available — it would be a significant first step towards making the film permitting process more transparent.

* The County's Film Liasion manages the FilmLA contract. Among other duties, they are responsible for conducting annual performance reviews of FilmLA. The Office of the County Film Liaison has recently been moved from the County's CEO office of Office of Unincorporated Area Services to the Office of Economic Development Affordable Housing Division.

August 31, 2016

FilmLA clarifies parking policy for the Altadena Filming Committee

The Altadena Filming Committee has recently received a few questions from the community about film crew parking in Altadena. The committee chair has reached out to Jennifer Morelos of FilmL.A., Inc. for clarification. Here's what the Committee learned.

Question: If film trucks take up the parking on one side of the street, can crew and cast parking take up the other side?

FilmL.A., Inc.: Production companies are allowed to request posting (i.e. no parking signs) only for working production vehicles. For example a grip truck or a picture car. The approved parking will be documented on the permit.

We do not allow cast and crew cars to be parked on area streets. The film permits for your area include the following condition: “No cast or crew parking on area streets”. Consequently, production companies must either park their crew cars and personal cars in an off-site parking lot, or inside the property that is hosting the shoot.
AF: While the permit condition “No cast or crew parking on area streets” does appear on the filming permit, it does not typcially appear on the FilmLA doorhanger notification. However, the actual filming permit with all filming conditions is available to the public on request at the location.

Question: Can production companies request and be approved for posting no parking signs on both sides of the street?

FilmL.A., Inc.: We will not approve a request for posting both sides of the street if the purpose of that request is just for parking.

However, we do allow posting on both sides for getting a specific picture or if there is a safety concern — for example, the road is narrow or winding or if there's a placement near hydrants or red curbs. But these are exceptions and require approval by the Roads Division in the LA County Department of Public Works. If parking on two sides of the street is permitted, it must be staggered so that the trucks do not directly face each other. These requests are rare.

When we do allow posting on both sides of the street, we add the following condition to the filming permit: "Equipment staging and vehicles may park on one side of the street only.”

Question: If it appears that parking conditions are not met, what would you advise?

FilmL.A., Inc.: Contact us. If there's a FilmLA Monitor on site, please call the violation to the Monitor's attention. In the unlikely event that the production does not comply with the conditions, we can ask on-site Law Officers help to ensure compliance. In the worst case, we can even withdraw the filming permit.
AF: FilmLA does not require a Monitor for every shoot. Monitors are assigned to depending on the size and scope of production and/or neighborhood sensitivity. Similarly, a law enforcement officer may or may not be assigned to a shoot. If no FilmLA monitor or on-site law enforcement officer is available, contact FilmLA directly on the 24/7 line: 213-977-8600. Alternatively you can contact our FilmLA's representative for Altadena, Arturo Pina (213-977-8642,

Note: Jennifer Morelos of FilmLA, Inc. reviewed this posting and suggested changes. Any remaining errors were introduced by your poster, Kenny Meyer.

January 16, 2016

FilmLA describes its policy for the determining the allowable film shoot frequency for neighborhood

In a recent email thread with our Town Council Member, FilmLA’s Arturo Pina describes the FilmLA policy for the number of shoots allowed in an Altadena neighborhood. 

If you’re interested, here’s a link…

December 19, 2015

Insight in how FilmLA makes decisions

In recent weeks, I been corresponding with FilmLA to get a clearer idea criteria they use for issuing filming permits. In a nutshell, I've been asking them about three topics:

  • What is a moratorium? (prompted by a posting by our neighbor Ed) 
  • What happens when FilmLA issues a permit in error (prompted by a violation of a Special Filming Condition) 
  • How does FilmLA determine if a neighborhood is overused. (prompted by a request to suspend filming on Homewood because FilmLA issues an filming permit in error) 

If I understand correctly, the bottom line for each question might be summarized as follows: 
  • A moratorium is a temporary order issued by county counsel to address a serious concern. The duration of a moratorium is seldom more than a couple of weeks. 
  • If FilmLA issues a filming permit in violation of a special condition, there is no recourse or remedy; only a promise to do better. 
  • FilmLA does not have objective criteria for determining neighborhood overuse. This is in contrast to the policies in neighboring communities that have their own film coordination functions. 

If you're interested in seeing the specific thread of correspondence... 
I've collated the emails and made them available on the following links: 

FilmLA definition of moratorium: 

FilmLA error in issueing permit: 

FilmLA policy for determining Overuse: 

Note: In cases where the thread includes an email from a neighbor, I've altered the name.