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Frank Ferry: Live from City Hall

Posted: July 27, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 27, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

The film industry continues to be one of Santa Clarita’s largest and fastest-growing industries. For fiscal year 2012-13, location filming reached an all-time high, with the city’s Film Office recording more film days and the highest economic impact to date.

Last fiscal year, the city’s Film Office recorded 1,069 location film days, which are days when productions are filming in the community versus on a film set.

Those film days represented an 18 percent increase over the previous record year in FY 2011-2012, when we saw 909 film days in the city.

Location filming also resulted in the largest economic impact we’ve seen to date for local businesses, with an estimated $25.7 million injection into the economy, surpassing the previous year which recorded $21.1 million in local economic benefit.

Santa Clarita’s popularity as a Hollywood back lot is encouraging because increased location filming translates to big business for local companies and quality employment for thousands of residents.

Santa Clarita has been in the film spotlight since the days of Tom Mix, Gene Autry and William S. Hart, and today we are working hand in hand with local property and business owners to pave the way for a bright film future.

The city has targeted television production because of its longer production schedule and the number of jobs that it creates. Currently, some of prime time’s most-watched programs are based in Santa Clarita, including CBS’s "NCIS," ABC’s "Wipeout," FX’s "Justified," TNT’s "Franklin & Bash," and ABC Family’s "Switched at Birth" and "Chasing Life."

We understand the impact that location filming can have on the community and do our best to balance the needs of production with those of property owners.

For example, our Film Office recommends other locations to production companies when an area of the community has recently seen a large amount of filming in an effort to reduce inconvenience to that neighborhood.

In 2009, Santa Clarita became the first city in Los Angeles County to offer a film incentive program, coinciding with the launch of the California Film and Television Tax Credit.

Since the launch of the programs, nearly a quarter of all state-approved projects, or 22 percent, have filmed in Santa Clarita, while 26 percent of all approved television series have been based here.

The city’s film incentive program, which was approved through June 30, 2015, by the City Council, has successfully helped retain and increase feature and television production resulting in more than $35 million in economic benefit to date.

Movie ranches are a big point of differentiation for the Santa Clarita Valley in comparison to other California film communities. Since its incorporation the city has been home to Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio, and in April the council approved the annexation of South Sand Canyon and welcomed Sable Ranch, Rancho Maria and A Rancho Deluxe as part of the Movie Ranch Overlay Zone.

Of the 692 acres included in the annexation, 540 acres are dedicated movie ranch properties.

In addition to creating the overlay zone, the city remains supportive of the Disney/ABC Studios at the Ranch project, which recently received unanimous approval from the Los Angeles County Planning Commission.

The project will bring soundstages and new production facilities to Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch and will create thousands of new jobs and an anticipated annual economic impact of more than $500 million for Los Angeles County.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will vote for the project’s final approval within the next two to three months.

Santa Clarita will continue to do everything we can to ensure a balanced approach to location filming that benefits production and property owners.

On behalf of the Santa Clarita City Council, I want to thank the countless production teams, location crews, home owners, and business owners who helped make Santa Clarita’s recent year of filming one for the record books.

Councilman Frank Ferry can be reached at fferry@santa-clarita.com.

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