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The film industry carries a fascination like no other. With the attraction it holds for many comes the myths that generate more attention and mystery. Although the film industry has many characteristics that make it unique, there are also the things that are synonymous with other businesses.
There are three things that attract a production to a city. One is the budget. Here comes the first myth: Production companies are rich with bottomless pits for spending. James Cameron had the reputation to get away with going over budget on “Titanic.” However, most companies find themselves in trouble if they can’t stay on budget. It is important to make certain that in welcoming this lucrative business to San Diego that we don’t take advantage of them financially.
The second consideration for the production company is the location. Sometimes the location is not important to the script. It’s just the backdrop of the story. That is why the Film Commission was able to steal “Mr. Wrong” from San Jose, “K-9” from San Francisco and “Anchorman” from Portland. These were stories where the location was not a character in the project and could be easily changed. When the location is a character in the film, it can’t be changed without affecting the story in a significant way. “The Out of Towners” was written with New York in mind and no other city would have given the same impact.
Another myth is that if a script reads San Diego, it will come here. The film industry is a business, and therefore will evaluate whether it makes financial sense to work here. Many films stay in Los Angeles to film the look of San Diego because it is cheaper than moving the show. The third concern for the production company is cooperation from government and having the appropriate infrastructure to support the production. The production company must evaluate whether San Diego has the crew, talent, hotels, and services to house their production. With our qualified crews being hired, the production company saves money by not bringing their own crews and putting them in hotels, paying per diems and mileage.
One of the unique characteristics of this industry is they are a mobile business and move their trucks containing the tools of their trade around with them. This, of course, creates a challenge for other businesses and communities. They are also unique in their need to work swiftly to save money and impact.
The Film Commission is contracted by government to attract, facilitate, permit and problem solve for these projects. Not many scripts are written for San Diego. Writers may find themselves more inspired with places with a reputation for specific characteristics that take their stories to the next level. Our job is to capture the work, no matter which city it is written for, and capture the millions of dollars that will drop into our economy. The many jobs created, hotel rooms and services utilized are an enormous benefit to our region.