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FilmL.A. unveils marketing campaign to tout the local film industry

December 13, 2010 | 11:42 am

Film-industry promoters on Monday unveiled a plan to heavily promote L.A.'s signature business at a time when much of it is leaving California.

The $135,000 marketing plan, dubbed Film Works,is designed to remind Angelenos of the "economic and cultural benefits the L.A. region receives from local filming" while underlining some of the challenges facing local businesses squeezed by runaway production.

Led by FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit group that contracts with the city and the county to handle film permits, the two-year campaign will involve outdoor, print and Web advertising as well as public-service spots that will run in Mann Theatres. 

A new black-and-yellow Film Works logo will be displayed on billboards and kiosks beginning in January, followed by ads on the sides of film trucks thanking communities that welcome filming and highlighting jobs created by local productions.  Filmworksnew

"Our audience is all of Los Angeles, but our object is really threefold," said FilmL.A. President Paul Audley. "We seek to promote filming in Los Angeles, thank area neighborhoods for hosting filming and renew local appreciation for filming's economic benefits."

FilmL.A., which consulted with a coalition of labor leaders, politicians and industry representatives, developed the plan, reported by the Los Angeles Times earlier this year ("L.A. to film crews: Come home"), in response to growing concern that the city was not doing enough to promote its historic ties to the industry -- and to stem the steady outflow of production to other locales.

L.A. County's entertainment industry, which directly employs 140,000 people and many more whose livelihoods are tied to the film and TV business, has been devastated by the flight of production to Canada and increasingly to other U.S. states, more than 40 of which offer film tax credits and rebates.

Although California's new incentives have helped to slow the decline, on-location production last year suffered its steepest drop since tracking began in 1993, reflecting a long-term flight of filming not only to international rivals such as Toronto and Vancouver, but also to Louisiana, Michigan and New Mexico.

The state's share of U.S. feature-film production plunged to 31% in 2008, down from 66% in 2003, according to the California Film Commission. And only 57% of all TV pilots were shot in L.A. in 2009, down from 81% in 2004, according to FilmL.A.

Audley announced the event at Los Angeles Center Studios, surrounded by camera trucks and trailers and props brought in by local film-service companies. He was joined by City Council President Eric Garcetti, L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, and other local politicians who talked about steps L.A. was taking to be more film-friendly, such as offering free parking in city lots and installing more electrical power nodes to facilitate filming in downtown L.A.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa did not attend but in a statement praised the campaign.

"Half a million people in the region depend on a thriving local film industry for their livelihoods,'' he said. "We can keep jobs in Los Angeles if we can find creative ways to keep filming here at home and in the state."

-- Richard Verrier

 Photo: City officials were on hand to announce plans to market Los Angeles and curb runaway production during a press conference Monday morning at Los Angeles Center Studios. Credit: Brian van der Brug/LA Times.