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Filming Nodes Proposed for DWP HQ, City Hall and 650 S. Spring

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, November 05, 2009, at 02:31PM
Criminal Minds Shoot Eric Richardson [Flickr]

A June 2008 shoot for "Criminal Minds" takes place at the intersection of 6th and Spring, near one of the proposed utility nodes.

A three-site pilot of "infrastructure nodes" to provide power for filming sites and base camps could be in operation by February of 2010, four years after the idea was first introduced at City Council. In the process, the estimated cost per site has ballooned.

The concept of the nodes is to provide points where film crews can plug in to get utility power, reducing their dependency on generators. That makes shoots greener, and the reduction in diesel exhaust is intended to make them better neighbors in an increasingly residential Downtown.

The nodes were first proposed by Plasmatic Concepts in a 2005 report on the future of Downtown filming, and Councilwoman Jan Perry introduced a motion asking the Department of Water and Power to study the concept in early 2006.

On Tuesday, Wayne Hinkson of DWP told the Council's Jobs and Business committee that the three sites have been selected, and that implementation talks are underway. Nodes would be placed at DWP's Bunker Hill headquarters, City Hall and in a parking lot next to 650 S. Spring.

The block bounded by 6th, 7th, Spring and Main is one of the most heavily used sites for filming operations. FilmL.A. reports that ten production companies have shot 15 days on the 600 block of Spring since July 1.

The lobby of the former Bank of America building at 650 S. Spring is frequently used for shoots, and a surface parking lot on the corner of 6th and Main is one of the few lots in the area large enough to hold base camps.

Hinkson told the committee that each node would cost $70,000 to $80,000, up from an estimate of $2,500 to $20,000 the department gave in 2006. DWP is trying to get community redevelopment funds or money from the Air Quality Management District to pay for the installations.

As the concept has been refined, the size of the nodes has also become an issue. Geoffry Smith of FilmL.A. characterized them as "executive desk" sized units, and said that the bulk means the nodes won't be going in on every corner.

Concerns have been raised that the installation of the nodes would lead to a rise in filming frequency on the surrounding blocks. Smith doesn't see that happening. "You're not going to go to a location because it's got a power node," he said.

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