EXCLUSIVE: Film and TV production in Los Angeles is paying big dividends for local schools. During the past 10 years, eight local school districts – including Los Angeles Unified and Long Beach Unified – have collected more than $20 million in location fees for campus filming activities. LAUSD officials say the money is used to supplement the cost of computer labs, art supplies, graduation ceremonies, athletic programs, school newspapers, library books, field trips, band uniforms, musical equipment, landscaping and a wide range of other programs, services and activities.
“Film industry requests to film at local schools go through a rigorous process to ensure the integrity of the education mission,” said Paul Audley, president of FilmLA, which represents seven local school districts in their dealings with the film and TV industry. “When requests are approved, filming at a school provides financial resources directly to the local school to supplement their budget.”
Data provided by FilmLA shows that the seven districts received an annual average of $2.3 million for each of the past five years. Here are the aggregate totals for the seven school districts, which also include including Burbank Unified, Glendale Unified, Los Angeles Community College District, Lawndale Elementary School District, La Canada Unified School District and Norwalk La Mirada Unified (fiscal years):
2007: $1,19 million
2008: $1.27 million
2009: $1.2 million
2010: $1.8 million
2011: $2.1 million
2012: $2 million
2013: $2.3 million
2014: $2.4 million
2015: $2.2 million
2016: $2.7 million
Total: $19.3 million
Long Beach Unified School District officials, meanwhile, say they’ve collected nearly $2.4 million in location fees during the past 10 years, with a high of $398,000 in fiscal 2010 and a low of $117,000 in 2007. The Long Beach schools are repped by Reel Locations, which takes a 30% cut of the location fees, which is nearly twice as much as the 16% that FilmLA takes.
Other campuses that have long been popular with film crews include the picturesque El Segundo High School, where Blackboard Jungle and Superbad (right) were filmed; Torrance High, where Bruce Almighty, Beverly Hills 90210 and Medium were shot; Beverly Hills High, where the swimming pool scene from It’s a Wonderful Life was filmed; and Santa Monica High, where scenes from Rebel Without a Cause were filmed.
Filming on local high school campuses has not been without controversy, however. LAUSD briefly suspended filming at its schools last year when KNBC News revealed that a porn film had been shot at Alexander Hamilton High School back in 2011. No students or faculty were present during filming, but the school district launched an investigation into how this could have happened.
A public records act request filed by Deadline for a copy of the LAUSD Inspector General’s report and finding relating to filming activities at the district was denied on the grounds that the report and findings are “confidential records, the disclosure of which are exempted or prohibited pursuant to California Education Code section 35401(c)” – which states: “Every investigation, including, but not limited to, all investigative files and work-product, shall be kept confidential, except that the inspector general may issue any report of an investigation that has been substantiated, keeping confidential the identity of the individual or individuals involved, or release any findings resulting from an investigation conducted pursuant to this article that is deemed necessary to serve the interests of the district.”