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San Diego Film Commission Dismantled, Now What?

Evening Edition

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.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | August 15, 2013 at 12:48 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

"You stay classy, Albuquerque!!"

No, no it's all wrong.

This is no good :(

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | August 15, 2013 at 2:52 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Another Filner success.

He single-handedly destroyed the Tourism Authority and the Film Commission in 6 months.

At least we could film a Godzilla movie with a giant-sized Filner tossing cars into the bay, smashing buildings, and toppling the Coronado Bridge. He certainly has the face for it!

It's BOBZILLA! Run for your lives!

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Avatar for user 'deprotinator'

deprotinator | August 15, 2013 at 6:06 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

It's a bit off-topic and disingenuous to link Filner's character flaw to this unfortunate news. Yes it's a big character flaw and has hurt many people, but the deal he struck with the Tourism Authority has nothing to do with it. Some may not like the result of that negotiations and some do. But disassembling the Film Commission is the sole decision of the Tourism Authority. This is not a decision made by a city official. According to the article above, the Film Commission was "funded by a variety of government sources." Sounds like these sources should have a say in the whole thing right? The article then says, "last year it was incorporated into San Diego's Tourism Authority." Wait, what?! Why?! Well, I'm sure they did it for good reason right? Someone, something must have benefited from this incorporation I hope. And now, a mere one year later, when money's tight, the first thing they do is fire everyone. How about that for responsibility? I think that action speaks volumes to the character of those who are running the Tourism Authority. These people are all about maximizing the profits of their hotels. The city and whatever goodwill should be given to it is never a priority on their agenda. Whatever deal Filner stubbornly negotiated with them is, in my view, doing the right thing to protect the taxpayers' interests. The Film Consortium stepping up to the plate should be applauded. I wish them the best and hope S.D. continues to grow in the film industry.

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Avatar for user 'NicoleMillerColeman'

NicoleMillerColeman | August 18, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

I am shocked that a major Southern California city would NOT see the importance of maintaining a strong and well-governed film commission. Attracting film makers to San Diego,and supporting our own, is good for local businesses, good for tourism and good for the San Diego brand.

I wish the San Diego Film Consortium good luck in their efforts.

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