Jeff Smith 2 p.m., April 16
Their website is no more. The final post on their Facebook page says it all: "After nearly 40 years of serving the film industry in the region, the San Diego Film Commission will close its doors today. We thank you for your support through the years and wish you the best in your filmmaking endeavors."
The shutting down is part of the recent wave of staff cuts that hit the Tourism Authority,
There was a time when San Diego was considered Hollywood's backlot. Throughout the '20's, '30's, and '40's, dozens of pictures were shot here each year. Next time you're in Balboa Park say hello to Charlie Kane's Xanadu or head over to the Hotel Del and dig in the sand for a Shell Oil seashell similar to the one Tony Curtis flashed in Some Like it Hot. As far as I'm concerned, the only reason the La Jolla Children's Pool exists was so that Richard Rush could use it as a backdrop for The Stunt Man.
Check out this list compiled by Greg Williams for the San Diego Historical Society. 752 films produced between 1898 - 2003, all of which showcase America's Finest City. Thomas Edison, Allan Dwan, Ernst Lubitsch, Otto Preminger, Raoul Walsh, Fritz Lang, Douglas Sirk, Jerry Lewis, Clint Eastwood and many other directors all called "Action!" on our soil.
You're only as good as your last big picture. Quick: name the last high profile movie that was shot in San Diego. That's right, Anchorman released in 2004. Sideways (2004), which opens in San Diego, was actually shot in Santa Barbara. A pair of sequels -- Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) and Jurassic Park 2 (1997) -- and Titanic (1997) come to mind, and not a whole heck of a lot more.
No matter how you slice it, San Diego is not a movie town. Sure, we have more than our fair share of mainstream screens and respectable art cinemas, but when it comes to film production, for all Hollywood cares San Diego might just as well be Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
I never had any dealings with the three outgoing staffers at the Film Commission, but it was my pleasure to work with and interview former Film Commissioner, Cathy Anderson, on several occasions. She worked valiantly to sell our town to the Hollywood top brass, but they weren't buying. With the exception of an occasional movie or TV series (Veronica Mars, American Idol) the main job of the SDFC was to issue permits for commercials, industrial shorts, music videos, student films, etc.
What is it that San Diego's got that would make Hollywood think it's hot? There's less traffic congestion and a giant military base. What else? Palm trees? Perfect weather in which to film year-round? Beautiful people? Scenic locations? Los Angeles is all that and then some.
Why move production two hours down the road to photograph similar angles when the cast and crew can work near home and sleep in their own beds?
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