Nearly two weeks after he announced his Greenlight Hollywood campaign, Mayor Eric Garcetti today unveiled further measures to make L.A, the friendliest city in America for production. He said the city will “cut red tape and will cut costs and make every department assign a point person to work directly with the film industry.” Garcetti also has signed an executive directive (read it here) implementing changes in the way the city works with the film industry.
Also today, LA’s deputy film czar Rajiv Dalal said he is stepping down from the post after nearly a year and a half. He and film czar Ken Ziffren were in the audience for the mayor’s announcement at City Hall, as were City Councilman Paul Krekorian and an gaggle of regional film commissioners and labor leaders.
Garcetti today also appointed his former mayoral-candidate rival Kevin James, President of the city’s Board of Public Works, as LA’s Chief Film Industry Liaison. “We have a qualified work force that is ready to get back to work,” said James, an AFTRA card holder and former industry attorney at Lavely & Singer. A former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Justice Department, James also has worked as a broadcaster. He started as an on-air legal analyst on Court TV, but transitioned in 2005 to hosting a talk show on local issues that focused on City Hall. He most recently fronted The Kevin James Show on KRLA-AM.
“It’s all about accountability and making sure the right person is at the other end of the phone when a production calls with an issue,” Garcetti told me after the ceremony.
Garcetti said there will be quarterly Film Task Force meetings as another part of the city’s efforts to make the sometimes cumbersome process of filming in the industry’s Hollywood home more streamlined and 21st century. Reflecting on the tripling of the state’s film and TV tax credits last summer, the mayor told his audience, “Thank you for making history.”
Added Garcetti: “I have no greater priority as mayor than to protect and expand L.A.’s economy and middle class – to make sure the American dream is alive and well here in our City of Angels.”
Talking about the push to increase the incentives last year, Garcetti joked about Gov. Jerry Brown’s slow-burn support. “A skeptic — but he’s our skeptic,” he said of Brown’s belief that increased tax credits will bring productions back to California.
Said Krekorian, chair of the City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Film and TV Production Jobs, “The steps we are taking today will simplify the film-permitting process and show that the City of Los Angeles is ready to improve the way it does business with the film industry.”
Among the other tactics announced to fight runaway production:
— Garcetti will augment Los Angeles’ fiscal 2015-16 budget to include increased funding for city services that are important to filming: increased clerical, monitoring and after-hours operations at the Recreation and Parks Department and the Fire Department; more efficient sign posting at the Department of Transportation; and computerized hiring and permitting systems linking permitting body FilmLA with Recreation and Parks and Fire.
— In addition to its film liaison, each city department is responsible for cooperating fully with FilmLA to ensure that all city fees be simple to understand and administer, that billing is completed immediately and that all fees will be set at the lowest possible amount.
— The Economic and Workforce Development Department will ensure that the city has a comprehensive list of city-owned properties for the industry to use free of charge.