Holiday filming restrictions in Los Angeles, where wide swaths of the city will be off limits to filmmakers for six weeks in November and December, stand in stark contrast to the permitting rules in other cities around the country.
As reported here Wednesday, LA’s citywide restrictions will begin November 23 and remain in effect through January 2, with lane closures, street closures and street parking to be sharply curtailed in all commercial and retail areas of the city. FilmLA, the city’s film permit office, is recommending that filmmakers plan their location shoots there after 9 PM during those 41 days, which is 11% of the year.
“Wow! That’s a long time,” said a film office official in Miami, where it’s even OK to shoot on Christmas Day.
“I’m glad we don’t have that,” Dallas Film Commissioner Janis Burklund said with a laugh. “That would be a killer.” She said there are no filming restrictions at all during the holidays in her city.
In New York City, the only restrictions are in Midtown, where filmmakers will be allowed to shoot only on one side of the street between 23rd and 66th Streets from Thanksgiving to New Year.
In Vancouver, where so many U.S. films are shot, no permits are issued during the Christmas break, when the film office closes down. This year, that’s about 10 days.
In New Orleans, another busy production hub, there are no specific restrictions, though a film office official there said productions that require major street closures in the business district and the French Quarter might not get approved during the busy holiday shopping season for the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Last December, the Los Angeles City Council made a big deal about making the city more film-friendly in advance of the filming boom that was expected here when the state of California’s new film tax incentives kicked in. That boom now appears to be gathering steam. On-location filming in the city was up nearly 4% in the third quarter compared with that time frame last year, and Hollywood Teamsters Local 399, a bellwether for production, now is reporting “full employment” of its membership.
The on-location holiday restrictions are even tighter in Santa Monica, where filming and production parking won’t be permitted at all in commercial areas of the city during those same 41 days. That city actually calls it a “Holiday Filming Moratorium.”
The filming restrictions and moratorium, which are designed to reduce the traffic and parking impact on local businesses and merchants who rely on holiday sales, might have made sense when LA was the undisputed film capital of the world, but those days are long gone. As Los Angeles struggles to bring back film jobs lost to tax-rebate states such as Georgia and Louisiana, the last thing it needs is another reason for producers to go there.