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L.A. schools are learning the Hollywood game

September 29, 2009 |  9:00 am

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L.A. schools are getting an education in Hollywood: It pays to be film-friendly.

Half a dozen films and TV series filmed in the Los Angeles Unified School District this summer, contributing nearly $1 million in revenue to the district. That's double the amount of film revenue the district collected this time last year, according to FilmL.A., the film permit group that has its own manager who coordinates filming in schools.

"We are seeing more family and school-situation scripts being penned and scenes filmed,'' said FilmL.A. spokesman Todd Lindgren. "School officials also are recognizing that filming revenue can offset some of their budget challenges."

The LAUSD charges $2,600 a day in use fees, with $2,000 going to the school and $600 that the district distributes among other schools. That does not include custodial fees or any donations that schools many receive from filming.

"The Secret Life of the American Teenager," the popular ABC Family drama starring Shailene Woodley, Daren Kagasoff and Molly Ringwald, will shoot a dance scene next week at John F. Kennedy High in Granada Hills (see accompanying chart). The show, in its second season, normally films exterior shots at Grant High School in Van Nuys, but the gym was booked that week, said location manager Mike Beche.

Kennedy High was eager to accommodate, Beche said. "They've moved volleyball games for us. They've gone way beyond what they should have."

"The Secret Life" is just one among several TV series that have filmed in L.A. schools this summer. Among them: "Three Rivers," the CBS drama about organ transplants;  "Men of a Certain Age," the TNT series starring Ray Romano; and the Fox comedy "Glee."  (The best-known high school TV show, "90210," mostly shoots its school scenes in Torrance and El Segundo, but also films in LAUSD schools.)  The just-released movie "Fame," an update of the 1980 musical, was shot at Le Conte Middle School in Hollywood. 

"When schools are flush with money, they are not as film-friendly," Beche said, "but all these schools need money and they know we're a great revenue source."

-- Richard Verrier

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