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Lights, cameras, money

San Diego city hall still wants to set up a film commission

A San Diego page on Filmcalifornia.com apparently  is not enough to clue in L.A. producers.
A San Diego page on Filmcalifornia.com apparently is not enough to clue in L.A. producers.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and fellow San Diego politicos who seem on the verge of losing the Chargers to Los Angeles are busy plotting at least one form of revenge: a new movie-making push to draw productions from Hollywood and intended to put a positive spin on the town and its football-challenged elected officials.

Kevin Faulconer (center)

They just don't know quite how to do it or how much it will ultimately cost.

"The San Diego region has a unique opportunity to re-envision the manner in which the region is promoted to the [movie] industry and to develop a model that addresses current industry trends and needs," says a "request for ideas" issued October 29 by San Diego's city purchasing and contracting office.

A hoped-for new regional film operation "will be a dynamic organization structured to address a wide variety of issues and opportunities associated with the film industry (inclusive of motion pictures, television, commercials, and other forms of media), utilizing the most modern and effective digital and social media tools available to ensure that the San Diego region becomes a preferred location for multiple facets of film, television, commercial, and digital media production," the solicitation says.

"Ideally, the [movie office] will build and enhance the competitiveness, profile, and growth potential of San Diego’s film industry, positioning our region to capitalize on filming trends of the future."

Continues the call for concepts, "We seek to be the place for film of the future, where we will be known as the most creative and pioneering location to create and innovate within the film industry."

While those may be tall ambitions for a city still wrestling with the Chargers challenge and the loss of its hometown newspaper printing presses to Los Angeles, the city appears undeterred:

"We seek entrepreneurial ideas for how to stimulate and facilitate the film industry in the San Diego County region."

The request sets out a wish list of possibilities, including a city hall tax-spending favorite, "infrastructure development," and "attraction of production studios/services in order to attract larger and more complex filming projects."

"Advocacy," otherwise known as the practice of lobbying and schmoozing at cocktail parties, also is big on the agenda, "to address local, state, federal, and bi-national issues."

Not far behind is "marketing/public relations, promoting the region as a destination."

Money may be an object, but total costs of the effort have yet to be established, at least for public consumption.

"Please provide a suggested budget and recommended time frame, including revenue and expenses, that incorporates implementation and support of any proposed portfolio of services," says the document.

"The budget may be a broad outline but should identify the major categories needed to establish and run such an endeavor, including, but not limited to, anticipated personnel expenses, strategic planning, information technology, advertising, facility costs, etc."

Todd Gloria (left)

Even before the new operation gets off the ground, Faulconer and the city council are already throwing public money at the cause, putting up "$100,000 to fund a staff member to reinstate the City’s Film Commission," as noted by a June 8 news release from the office of Democratic city councilman Todd Gloria.

"It is anticipated that for long term success and sustainability, funding and fundraising beyond public agencies (i.e. Government) will be required. Proposed budget(s) should reflect financial options to ensure sustainability and may include public funding, private funding, earned income opportunities, non-traditional funding sources, sponsorships, grants, etc.," says the request for ideas.

The city's original film commission was folded back in July 2013 in the midst of a long-running fight over use of taxes collected from hotel occupants, according to a U-T San Diego report.

The deadline for submissions is December 15, the idea request says.

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A San Diego page on Filmcalifornia.com apparently  is not enough to clue in L.A. producers.
A San Diego page on Filmcalifornia.com apparently is not enough to clue in L.A. producers.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and fellow San Diego politicos who seem on the verge of losing the Chargers to Los Angeles are busy plotting at least one form of revenge: a new movie-making push to draw productions from Hollywood and intended to put a positive spin on the town and its football-challenged elected officials.

Kevin Faulconer (center)

They just don't know quite how to do it or how much it will ultimately cost.

"The San Diego region has a unique opportunity to re-envision the manner in which the region is promoted to the [movie] industry and to develop a model that addresses current industry trends and needs," says a "request for ideas" issued October 29 by San Diego's city purchasing and contracting office.

A hoped-for new regional film operation "will be a dynamic organization structured to address a wide variety of issues and opportunities associated with the film industry (inclusive of motion pictures, television, commercials, and other forms of media), utilizing the most modern and effective digital and social media tools available to ensure that the San Diego region becomes a preferred location for multiple facets of film, television, commercial, and digital media production," the solicitation says.

"Ideally, the [movie office] will build and enhance the competitiveness, profile, and growth potential of San Diego’s film industry, positioning our region to capitalize on filming trends of the future."

Continues the call for concepts, "We seek to be the place for film of the future, where we will be known as the most creative and pioneering location to create and innovate within the film industry."

While those may be tall ambitions for a city still wrestling with the Chargers challenge and the loss of its hometown newspaper printing presses to Los Angeles, the city appears undeterred:

"We seek entrepreneurial ideas for how to stimulate and facilitate the film industry in the San Diego County region."

The request sets out a wish list of possibilities, including a city hall tax-spending favorite, "infrastructure development," and "attraction of production studios/services in order to attract larger and more complex filming projects."

"Advocacy," otherwise known as the practice of lobbying and schmoozing at cocktail parties, also is big on the agenda, "to address local, state, federal, and bi-national issues."

Not far behind is "marketing/public relations, promoting the region as a destination."

Money may be an object, but total costs of the effort have yet to be established, at least for public consumption.

"Please provide a suggested budget and recommended time frame, including revenue and expenses, that incorporates implementation and support of any proposed portfolio of services," says the document.

"The budget may be a broad outline but should identify the major categories needed to establish and run such an endeavor, including, but not limited to, anticipated personnel expenses, strategic planning, information technology, advertising, facility costs, etc."

Todd Gloria (left)

Even before the new operation gets off the ground, Faulconer and the city council are already throwing public money at the cause, putting up "$100,000 to fund a staff member to reinstate the City’s Film Commission," as noted by a June 8 news release from the office of Democratic city councilman Todd Gloria.

"It is anticipated that for long term success and sustainability, funding and fundraising beyond public agencies (i.e. Government) will be required. Proposed budget(s) should reflect financial options to ensure sustainability and may include public funding, private funding, earned income opportunities, non-traditional funding sources, sponsorships, grants, etc.," says the request for ideas.

The city's original film commission was folded back in July 2013 in the midst of a long-running fight over use of taxes collected from hotel occupants, according to a U-T San Diego report.

The deadline for submissions is December 15, the idea request says.

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Comments
2

Since Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park has been turned into a citizen space rather than parking space for cars, a new film commission will not be able to cordon off the entire area in front of the Museum of Fine Arts for film apparatus and vans and catering as once was customary.

I also hope area homes will not be requisitioned for making movies, thus turning entire neighborhoods into no-go zones for residents and visitors, as also used to happen when we were busy selling San Diego to Hollywood for TV and movie locations.

San Diego will be a tougher location sell than in the old days, because it is generally less well-kept and attractive. You can only ignore cratered streets, curbs and sidewalks so long before the neglect begins to show. And out in the 'burbs, homeowners are busy sowing rocks rather than grass lawns, so that alone says Tucson rather than San Diego. The revived film commission will have its work cut out.

Nov. 2, 2015

The old film commission died from many existential issues, any one of which would have been a coup d'grace. Even a quick look makes this a stillborn initiative: increasingly digital film industry, unfavorable union rules for locations outside "the zone," impacts of use in a denser environment, loss of the few favored locations to growth or reduced access, problems authorizing and policing permits, and mostly, cheesey funding offers like the one outlined in the article (compared to other more film-friendly locales). To crew and trades people like Natalie, the withered market and supply of location work and almost nonexistent studio jobs is a status we shouldn't ignore. The old commission worked against a terrible odds that have gotten far worse.

Nov. 4, 2015

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