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Grand Park director pushes for lower film fees to be 'good neighbor' to Hollywood

By Hayley Fox
Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013, at 01:02PM
Hayley Fox

The Director of Grand Park says that if a film shoot wants to take over the park's centerpiece fountain on a hot July day, he would say no -- to preserve the space for public use.

If you want to shoot a movie in Grand Park, it'll cost $20,000 per block, per day— for now.

The 12-acre, $56 million park that began opening in segments last summer has sparked debate among its programmers, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the film industry. While some argue that the steep filming fee should be drastically reduced or done away with altogether (at least temporarily), others say charging for commercial use will help maintain the park's priority as a public space.

The Music Center's Lucas Rivera, who directs Grand Park programming, said it's about striking a balance between the film industry and public need. He hopes the Board of Supervisors will lower movie fees to between $2,000 and $4,000 — in an effort to be a "good neighbor" to Hollywood, which is such an integral part of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times reports that supervisors Don Knabe and Michael D. Antonovich have proposed dropping filming fees entirely for six months to help draw production to the area and "establish Grand Park as an icon."

Knabe told the L.A. Times they want to "be supportive and a partner in [a] very productive business for jobs here in Los Angeles County."

According to the Board of Supervisors, the expansive Downtown park attracted more than 19,000 people in its first six months of operation. Public programming at the park has picked up speed over the last few months to include farmers markets, yoga sessions and outdoor concerts.

This week alone there are four events planned for the space. As summer approaches, we can only anticipate that the public's use of the park will grow. Maintaining residents' access is part of the delicate balance officials must consider when making decisions regarding film fees.

But Rivera said that regardless of cost there is still a thorough process to determine whether the Grand Park is open for shooting on a given day or not.

He said the way they define "availability" is based on what section the crew wants to use, how busy of a season it is and what activities it may interfere with.

For example, the William J. Arthur Memorial Fountain is a popular spot in the park -- especially during the summer months when weather heats up. Rivera said that regardless of what they pay, if a film crew wanted to come in July and shut down the fountain for a day they would most likely be denied this request. If it was during an off month or at night, that may be able to be accommodated.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to address the filming fee issue next week at a meeting.

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