It’s that time of year again – the approach of the holiday season – and it couldn’t be coming at a worse time for L.A.-based filmmakers. Just as location filming was beginning to take off in Los Angeles thanks to California’s new tax incentives, it’s expected to slow significantly as the city implements citywide on-location filming restrictions to reduce the traffic and parking impact on local businesses and merchants who rely on holiday sales.
The city clamps down every year during the holidays, but with local production booming thanks to the tax credits, this year it’s expected to make location shooting more difficult than ever as more and more productions vie for fewer locations.
“It’s going to make it a hell of a lot harder,” veteran location manager Scott Logan told Deadline. “I hate the holidays.”
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The citywide restrictions will begin November 23 and remain in effect through January 2. As a result, filming activity including lane closures, street closures and street parking will be sharply limited in all commercial and retail areas of the city. FilmLA, the city’s film permit office, is recommending that filmmakers plan their location shoots after 9 PM during those six weeks.
Filmmakers still can apply for permits to shoot during daytime hours, but they’ll have to jump through a lot more hoops than they do now — and still could be turned down. They’ll have to survey affected businesses and residents, and the local City Council office and the Board of Public Works will have to give their OK.
The city of Santa Monica also will be imposing a “holiday moratorium” during this same time period. “During the holiday moratorium, filming and production parking will not be permitted in commercial areas of the City of Santa Monica,” FilmLA said.
Filming in and around LAX will also be more difficult. The LAX Film Office and Los Angeles World Airports have issued a “temporary moratorium” on any permit requests for closures and so-called “rolling breaks” – where police cars swerve back and forth on the freeway to slow traffic or bring it to a halt — on all roadways within a four-mile radius of LAX from November 21 through January 6. The filming restrictions are intended to avoid a potential conflict with passengers heading to and from the airport during the busy winter travel season.
“We’re getting hit from all directions,” Logan said. “Because our economy has recovered, downtown parking lots we used to park our trucks in have been turned into housing developments. Then they took a full lane away on Spring Street and turned it into a bike lane, and the Department of Transportation won’t allow us to park our trucks there during rush hour. Now, with this holiday moratorium, it makes it difficult to do what we’re trying to do. And the busier we get, the harder it is to work with what we have.”
Another longtime location manager agreed, saying, “It definitely gets harder and harder.”
The holiday restrictions are expected to hit TV and commercial production the hardest. “TV is in full swing right now,” said another location manager, “and commercials are getting really busy gearing up for all the holiday and Super Bowl ads.” Nowadays, she said, “Nobody takes a hiatus.” If anything, their jobs only get harder this time of year.
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