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Location Managers Say Six of Ten "Hardest to Film" Spots Downtown

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, November 02, 2009, at 08:21PM
bomb squad entering bank jim Winstead [Flickr]

Filming at the Farmer's and Merchants Bank in 2005 for the short-lived NBC drama "Heist." The building is listed as one of L.A.'s ten "hardest to film" locations.

Downtown Los Angeles has six of the City's top ten "hardest to film" locations, according to a report released on Monday.

On that list is the Farmers and Merchant Bank at 4th and Main, and owner Tom Gilmore finds that interesting. "I find it odd that we are both one of the most filmed locations in Los Angeles and also the hardest to film location in Los Angeles," said Gilmore. "I find that contradictory."

Update: At Tuesday's hearing, it became clear that money has a lot to do with making a location unfriendly.

The hardest to film list, compiled by the Location Managers union, includes the AT&T Building, Farmers & Merchant Bank, Japanese American National Museum, Maguire Gardens, Chamber of Commerce headquarters and the Terminal Annex building.

According to the report, "Sites were identified by location managers as difficult to film due to rental costs, restrictions on filming at the site, contractual requirements that negatively affect business decisions, restrictions on food service, and other issues."

Gilmore, who said that filming takes place at the corner of 4th and Main 80 to 150 days per year, believes that the answer to filming in Downtown is one of balance. "The film industry refuses to come to the realization that filming in residential neighborhoods is fundamentally more complex than filming in an empty parking lot," he said. "It's silly to me that they haven't figured that out."

The historic bank building and the block of 4th between Spring and Main are a constant site for shoots. Gilmore, as owner of the bank building and the Old Bank District lofts, profits from that activity. "I'm the last guy looking to kill the film industry, because we do make money from it," he said.

The "hardest to film" report is one of five items related to making filming in Los Angeles easier that will go to a special meeting of the Jobs and Business committee on Tuesday afternoon.

Outside of Downtown, the list includes the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign, the Los Angeles Zoo and County General Hospital.

On October 7, City Council passed a motion with 18 recommendations and requests aimed at keeping filming in Los Angeles. One of those items asked for the hard to film list, along with "solutions to [the] identified problems."

Also on Tuesday's agenda for the Jobs and Business committee (PDF) are responses dealing with free parking for film shoots, utility infrastructure nodes in Downtown and a website listing City facilities available for shoots.


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