San Diego Film Commission Dismantled, Now What?
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Aired 8/15/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Cathy Anderson, Founder, San Diego Film Commission
Jodi Cilley, Founder, San Diego Film Consortium
If you enjoy spotting San Diego locations in TV shows and movies, you'd better rent some old DVDs.
After several years of cuts, the San Diego Film Commission was finally dismantled last month when the Tourism Authority laid off the last three members of the commission.
The Film Commission was a one-stop shop for filmmakers that helped them process film permits, scout locations and find talent.
It helped bring major productions, such as Jurassic Park, Top Gun and Anchorman, to town.
Officials say that at its peak, the Film Commission was bringing in $100 million a year in direct production company spending.
Cathy Anderson, who founded the commission 36 years ago, believes it should be revived and adds that its closure left film crews scrambling.
"A couple of weeks ago, the tourism folks closed the Film Commission for good and left filming with no plans on how to assist them. I am getting all sorts of calls," she said.
The commission was funded by a variety of government sources and last year it was incorporated into San Diego's Tourism Authority.
Last month, the Tourism Authority said that because of a drop in funding from legal woes over its Tourism Marketing District Fee, it was forced to lay off 40 percent of its staff including the entire SDFC.
Today, the Film Consortium, a non-profit group dedicated to building the film industry in San Diego, announced that it plans to fill the gap left by the closing of the Film Commission.
“The Film Consortium is committed to making San Diego a world-class filmmaking destination and ensure both local and production companies from outside the city have easy access into the vast talent pool and resources that we have here,” said Film Consortium Founder and President Jodi Cilley. “Through our efforts, we believe production teams will not only find San Diego to be a hospitable place for production, but they will also hire locally and spend more money on local businesses. This promises to be a tremendous boost to our economy. Permitting is an imperative part of that process and we want to move fast to make sure the gap left by the Film Commission does not shut down or scare away filmmaking from our city.”
Cilley says the organization will expand its services next month to include processing film permits.
Fees will be assessed on a sliding scale based on the film's budget.
The organization has plans to contract with former Film Commission staff to assist with building infrastructure and gaining contacts across the agencies that are affected by film production.
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner spoke at one of the consortium's networking events earlier this year. At the time, the group was counting on the mayor and the city to bring better and more opportunities to San Diego filmmakers.