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Santa Clarita a hot filming destination

Posted: December 26, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 26, 2013 2:00 a.m.

A crew mounts a camera on a lift as they prepare to film a scene at a car dealership on Creekside Road in Valencia.

 

Filming in Santa Clarita was a blockbuster success in 2013.

The city issued 429 film permits through the end of November compared to 362 permits in all of 2012, said Russell Sypowicz, Santa Clarita economic development associate.

And December numbers have yet to be factored in to the annual totals.

Santa Clarita also recorded 1,182 days of location filming through November, compared to 919 days last calendar year. And 2013 saw a number of record-breaking months for film days — 204 film days were recorded in November, 143 days in October and 130 in April.

The city has continued to see increases in filming each year since it first adopted its Film Incentive Program in 2009.

“We’re going to smash it, but I don’t know how much,” Sypowicz said of the previous record year for city filming. “It’s been a crazy, crazy good year.”

October was a record month all by itself, he said. That month resulted in more film permits and film days than any other month.

“We issued 75 film permits in October. The most permits we’ve issued in a prior month, for as far back as we go, was 44 permits in August 2013,” Sypowicz said. “We had 31 more permits in October than in August. And we only had 30 permits total in September.”

Typically, the city and local studios target TV filming because those projects bring in long-term, steady jobs, especially if the production stays for multiple seasons, Sypowicz said during an interview in the fall.

But while the city has seen a steady amount of television location filming in 2013, it has also noted an increase in feature films shooting on location — and a growing variety of commercial productions, he said. Features that filmed locally included “2 Guns” and “Iron Man 3.”

And local studios are homes to several existing and new TV programs, as well as feature movie sets.

Santa Clarita Studios houses several leading TV shows that are in their third season or further and plans to build additional sound stages and add more employees to support the growth, said Mike DeLorenzo, president of the full-service studio.

Also, Avenue Scott Stages of Valencia served as a studio production facility for Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks.”

One positive trend was that Santa Clarita had a lot of smaller feature films when most cities are losing feature films — which tend to film for more days than are needed to complete commercials or TV shows.

Smaller feature films using Santa Clarita as a Hollywood back lot filmed for “many, many days,” which pumps more money into the local economy, Sypowicz said.

Known for being a film-friendly city with its own incentives for filming, an easy permitting process and lower-cost permit fees, Santa Clarita attracts a large number of film projects that remain in the state once they’re approved for the state’s tax credits.

Of all the projects approved for state tax credits, more than 22 percent were filmed in Santa Clarita, according to the city’s film office.

All this good news translates to a larger estimated economic impact for the community, Sypowicz said. He calculates the filming activity pumped $28.5 million into the local community through November of this year.

That’s up 31 percent over all of 2012, which set a record when it hit $21.7 million.

“There are always challenges,” he said, “but filming is good for the economy, local residents and jobs.”

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