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The Price is Right for Choosing Filming Locations

There’s no business like show business for communities competing to serve as filming locations. Hollywood used to be the standard place for production but a growing number of movies and television shows are choosing other locations for filming. And it all has to do with the almighty dollar.

“It becomes less expensive to make a film in other parts of the country than in Hollywood, so many production companies and studios are going that direction,” says Dawn Keezer, Director of the Pittsburgh Film Office.

Millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs are at stake for states looking to host a film or television production. Over the last 10 years, states have enacted legislation to offer lucrative tax incentives to attract production companies to local sites.

More than 40 states including California offer financial incentives, according to Amy Lemisch, Director of the California Film Commission. Add efforts by Canada and other countries to the mix and the competition spikes even higher.

“A production company or a studio will usually not consider a region if there is not an incentive program,” Lemisch says. “The level of competition is intense.”

Movie budgets are a big factor in choosing filming locations. Dr. Amy Phillips Digital Filmmaking & Video Production Department Chair at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale says choosing a location depends on where the production company is located and the budget for location costs.

Lower budgets dictate finding a site that can be “dressed” to look generic, she says, and then filling in with B roll from stock footage of more exciting – and expensive – settings.

One of the biggest benefits for communities that host production companies is the boost that films provide to local employment. Chris Stelly, Director of Film for Louisiana Entertainment says attracting productions to Louisiana is all about creating jobs.

“We’ve seen more and more people moving back to Louisiana to work in the industry,” he says. “Kids are getting trained to be able to work in the industry. We’re reversing the brain drain and diversifying our economy.”

The economy and job creation don’t just relate directly to production. As Keezer puts it: “The needs of a film production are enormous and can trickle down into every field imaginable.”

Production companies rent hotel rooms, office space, and cars. They purchase lumber, paint, and other materials for sets. They need supplies for wardrobe, props, and scenery. And the hundreds of people working on the production also need to be fed a few times daily.

“The one area that many people don’t think about is that when the out-of-town members of the film crew are not working, they go out to restaurants, shop, and purchase personal items, do their laundry and even support area arts and culture,” she adds.

Lemisch estimates about $38 billion a year is spent in California by then entertainment industry, with about $17 billion of it going toward wages. With that much money at stake, it’s no wonder that the competition is so fierce. She says that each production hires 100 to 500 people and spends about $100,000 to $300,000 for each day of production.

“It provides enormous economic impact and tax revenues for the state,” Lemisch adds. “It’s a concentrated period of time with a lot of spending in that short period of time.”

And don’t count California out as a location for filming productions. It is still considered by many as the premier spot for shooting and remains the entertainment capitol of the world, Lemisch says.

“We have the largest and most state-of-the-art filming infrastructure in the world,” she says. “You can get the best crews, the best equipment, and it rarely rains.”

Meanwhile, the local economy in states like Louisiana are benefiting as filming locations outside Hollywood become more popular.

“No one in their wildest dreams would have ever thought you could work on the film industry in Louisiana,” says Stelly. “We’re very proud of all of our projects.”

Read the entire article HERE

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