Filming Update

Film crew striking the set on Rossmore Avenue on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, we reported on the filming on Rossmore Avenue and how the recent concentration of filming in the neighborhood, and on Rossmore in particular, is grating on some residents.  We reported that neighbors were particularly annoyed to have filming activity on Yom Kippur, one of the most somber holidays in the Jewish tradition.  And after the story ran, we got lots of comments from readers, on both Facebook and this website.

We also got a call from CD4 Council Member David Ryu’s office asking us to correct our story.  Mark Pampanin, a spokesman for Council Member Ryu, told us to that we had left out the role the council member’s staff played in working out a compromise with the production company not to film on Yom Kippur but instead to finish filming Tuesday evening by 10 pm and strike the set on Wednesday, with a reduced crew in consideration of the holiday.

Pampanin told the Buzz that his office had started getting complaints from residents once the filming notice was distributed on September 11, also the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. He said that CD4 contacted FilmLA and worked out the following special conditions for the shoot scheduled the following week:

  • Production will not have anything parked on the street on prep (9/14 and 9/17) and strike (9/19) days. They will be self-contained on private property. On 9/18 the filming hours will be during standard filming hours of 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Production will have 3 off-duty officers on the film date (9/18)
  • A FilmL.A Monitor will be present the entire time of prep, film and strike days

But if that was a revised filming schedule, it was news to the residents. The original filming notice, distributed to residents on September 11, already called for striking the set on Wednesday. The production company’s representative, Peter Sands, told the Buzz that the company was “extremely aware of the Jewish holidays and the sensitivities,” and had wanted to start shooting earlier in the week, to move farther away from the holidays…but they were advised by city filming officials to stick with their original schedule with the strike date on Wednesday. (The location manager, Chris Fuentes, was invited to attend the Hancock Park Homeowners Association board meeting on Monday evening to discuss the matter, but he did not attend.)

So if there was a revision in the schedule at some point, as Pampanin reported, “Nobody knew anything about it,” Rossmore resident Andrew J. Fenady told the Buzz. Fenady had earlier written a letter to the Larchmont Chronicle, expressing his concerns about the chaotic traffic condition on the street. “Nobody came to the fellow who wrote the letter, this is post mortem and doesn’t do any good to address the problem of the constant shooting. We have lived here since 1960. We can’t get in or out of the driveway, there are trucks piled up on both side of the streets, it’s back lot of a studio.”

Fenady told the Buzz that he’s not against filming, but that there are “degrees.”  As a writer/producer, Fenady said he’s shot on Larchmont Blvd. and Rossmore, and he never had a complaint because he never stayed long. “We were discreet; we only shot a few hours at time,” explained Fenady.

“They come at 7am and don’t leave until 8 or 9pm,” added his wife, Mary Frances Fenady.

Paul Audley, President of FilmLA, the non-profit entity that runs filming for the City of Los Angeles and 17 other cities, told the Buzz that his office routinely reviews permits, as does the Los Angeles Police Department, which actually issues the permits, and that he will often ask a production company to scale back filming activity for a variety of reasons. Audley said his office rejected the first request by the production company for this shoot, which originally called for a much bigger scope of filming.  But Audley said it was later approved with the conditions and the schedule that were sent to residents on September 11 – including filming activity (the strike day), but not actual filming on Yom Kippur. Audley said CD4 was in touch with his office only after that office started getting calls from residents.

In addition to the frequency of filming and the length of the shoot days, transparency about getting permission from residents is currently a huge issue for neighbors. Production companies are asked to survey the neighborhood and get neighbors to sign off on filming. At the Hancock Park Homeowners Association board meeting, however, several residents said they didn’t get a survey or they didn’t sign off on this particular shoot…even though the production company told the association that everyone had agreed to the filming. And as we noted in our previous story, the inability to verify the surveys or the survey methodology is another source of frustration for residents, because FilmLA won’t share the surveys because of privacy concerns.

Audley said his office had heard complaints from residents about surveys, and found that one survey company had failed to deliver the survey on another shoot in the neighborhood.  He said LAPD is taking action against that survey company. As for sharing data with homeowners, Audley said that’s not likely to happen because they want to protect the confidentiality of residents who respond.  He said some residents are reluctant to speak out either in favor of or against filming, because they don’t want to anger their neighbors. However,  he said his office is going to monitor survey companies to make sure they deliver the surveys and that they now won’t accept anything but written responses.

“We work on balance,” said Audley, “we are trying to make a survey system that takes the bias out of the process.”

From the comments we got and people we spoke to, it’s fair to say that most Hancock Park residents don’t mind some filming. What they do mind is too much filming. Audley said his office understands this and works to steer production away from some neighborhoods, giving them a respite.

But some residents say that’s not good enough, and they want new citywide rules that would restrict filming to 14 days on one block, with a 30-day respite between shoots, unless a majority of residents don’t object to the shoot. But even though other cities have such rules for residential neighborhoods, the task of getting a city-wide ordinance for Los Angeles would be a challenge.

“An ordinance is a bigger lift,”Pampanin told the Buzz. He also asked the Buzz to clarify the Council Member’s position on a filming ordinance, as our previous story gave the impression that Ryu was open to idea of an ordinance if there was a demonstration of support from residents.

“This is not something we are working on,” said Pampanin, adding that Council Member Ryu would not have an opinion on an ordinance until one is drafted. But Pampanin also said he couldn’t imagine what such an ordinance would look like, if it were to address all the various neighborhoods in the city. Instead, Pampanin said, the council member is “always for more collaboration between industry and community.”

Audley agreed that a city-wide ordinance is not likely to get much support, because there are so many different neighborhoods. For example, he said, industrial areas could have filming anytime but residential areas need filming to be managed more carefully. Audley also said that no matter what rules are in place, all it takes is one bad production to ruin a neighborhood for filming, if the crew is inconsiderate of residents. But Audley said FilmLA is open 24/7 and has staff to monitor every shoot. If residents have problems, they should call FilmLA at 213-977-8600…and if it’s after hours they can press #2 and their call will directed to someone who is on duty. In addition, residents can sign upon the FilmLA website to receive email notification of upcoming shoots in their neighborhood.

For their part, members of the Hancock Park Homeowners Association said they would continue to encourage production companies to follow the neighborhood’s “Good Neighbor Guidelines,” and push for more transparency in the survey process. There’s another shoot planned next week at 460 South June, which has requested a start time of 6 am, which most residents are likely to go along with, explained Erik Storey, Hancock Park’s filming liaison.

“We certainly don’t want to come off as “anti filming,” which is how some view our position,” said Storey. Though, he added, it would be more respectful of the adjacent neighbors if the coming production would start at 7 am.

 

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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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