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Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024
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S.D. Not Waiting To Be Discovered

Brandy Shimabukuro

After several re-takes and reboots over the past 40 years, the latest version of San Diego’s film commission is turning to the web — among other reconfigured elements — to boost the region’s profile in the increasingly competitive world of media production shoots.

“Some of this was getting up-to-date with the technology, but a lot of it has also been about how to advance things to the next steps,” said Brandy Shimabukuro, who was appointed in December as the city’s filming program manager.

As part of the city’s newly named Special Events & Filming Department, she was tasked by Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council with re-establishing programs related to film-permit facilitation and marketing of the region for media shoots. Some of those had fallen by the wayside after the predecessor agency, known as the San Diego Film Commission, was disbanded in 2013 amid tourism agency budget cuts.

S.D. in Pictures

Among other changes, San Diego has joined the ranks of hundreds of destinations globally using the services of North Carolina-based software provider Reel-Scout Inc., whose offerings include a website called Reel-Scout, with a hub where production companies view a gallery of cities’ locations available for movie, TV and advertising shoots.

Rather than making time-consuming visits to potential shooting sites, which can also be expensive depending on the distance, production companies are increasingly viewing online portfolios to weigh their filming decisions. San Diego officials said Reel-Scout’s subscribers include location scouts, production managers and other industry executives, seeking 24-7 access to location galleries.

The site’s LocationHub, for instance, includes an international search engine for all licensed Reel-Scout location galleries, which can be filtered to find specific sites appropriate to industries such as fashion, lifestyle and automotive brands — relevant to ad producers — as well as TV and feature-film settings.

Destinations’ digital portfolios, consisting of photos and videos, are linked to interactive mapping through Google, and live weather data through The Weather Channel, to give users more information on the sites they’re viewing.

The city has entered into a licensing agreement with Reel-Scout to display the city’s location sites, and officials have also beefed up content on the city’s own website geared to facilitating film permitting.

Increasing Exposure

Shimabukuro, who previously led marketing efforts for downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter Association business group, said San Diego currently has about 600 destinations posted on the Reel-Scout site, but the goal is to eventually bring that up to around 2,000.

In coming months, she will be working with local production professionals to build up the local region’s professional directory, also viewable via Reel-Scout, where media production companies can find skilled technicians, staffing and supplies for their local shoots. She will also help to train other government agencies, including staff of the County of San Diego and Port of San Diego, on the use of the online portfolio tools, and will be reaching out to other cities in the county to get their locations and media professionals listed for producers to see.

While he needed to see more details in coming weeks, locally based film and TV producer Dale Strack said he’s encouraged by what he’s heard about changes in progress, which could at least raise the region’s visibility within the U.S. media production community.

“I’m sure that it will be helpful in reaching people who are on the outside looking in,” said Strack, who is also chairman and president of the San Diego Film Foundation, which organizes the annual San Diego Film Festival. “It can’t hurt.”

Strack said he’s looking forward to more local efforts that could help organize the local production community and build up the region’s infrastructure of service and supply companies catering to the industry. That in turn could help attract producers to film in the San Diego region as they take advantage of financial incentives already offered by the state of California, but generally favoring Los Angeles-centric productions.

The San Diego Film Commission was created in 1976 as a division of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. It was incorporated into the San Diego Tourism Authority in 2012 but disbanded in 2013 amid budget issues faced at that time by the tourism agency.

Film permitting duties were subsequently absorbed by the city’s Special Events Department. As part of the budget for the 2016 fiscal year, which began in July 2015, Mayor Faulconer and the City Council moved to create the filming program manager position and allocated $225,000 in non-personnel funding.

At around the same time, San Diego county supervisor Dave Roberts advocated for an additional $125,000 to come from the county’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program, along with $20,000 to have an economic analysis of San Diego’s film industry prepared.

Shimabukuro said city funding is in the process of being secured to continue programs in the 2017 fiscal year, and the region during the current year will be advertising in industry publications including Locations International, Beyond Cinema Magazine and MovieMaker Magazine.

San Diego Film Credits

For much of the past century, San Diego was the site of numerous shoots for major Hollywood productions, ranging from “Citizen Kane” to “Some Like it Hot” and later “Top Gun.” Those movie shoots have slowed to a trickle in recent years, amid competition not only from LA and New York City, but also from places including Georgia, North Carolina, Hawaii and western Canada.

The local region still gets the occasional call from Hollywood for full-length feature shoots, most recently including “Anchorman 2” and “Hail Caesar!,” though television now visits more frequently. Petco Park was recently the site of a shoot for the TV pilot of 20th Century Fox’s “Pitch,” a fictional show about the first woman to play in Major League Baseball, and Oceanside was the site of location shooting and casting for a TNT crime drama called “Animal Kingdom.”

Cable TV reality and documentary series still frequent San Diego, most recently including episodes of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and the E! network’s “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” However, officials have said the bulk of regular local media production is currently focused on TV and print advertising, including recent national campaigns for firms such as Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Samsung and Qualcomm.

During fiscal year 2015, officials said more than 1,200 days of filming took place on San Diego city public property, a figure that does not include filming on private property and in other jurisdictions within San Diego County.

For 2012, the most recent year for which full data is available, media production in the San Diego region had an economic impact of more than $15.5 million.

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