Despite warnings it would drive away the entertainment industry, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved filming rental rates for downtown's recently opened Grand Park that are significantly higher than those at many other parks throughout Los Angeles.
They voted 4-1 -- with Supervisor Don Knabe voting no -- to charge producers about $1,920 to $12,000 to shoot movies, television shows and commercials at the park for up to 14 hours. For still photographers, the cost is $1,600 to $4,000 for six hours.
On top of those amounts, producers and photographers would have to pay for any labor that county workers perform at the Grand Park related to the shoot, such as maintenance and security.
Edward Duffy, vice president and business agent for Teamsters Local 399, which represents location managers, casting directors, drivers and other entertainment industry workers, yelled at the board from his seat in the audience and almost walked out in frustration.
"Lowering the park fees to where they are now, which doesn't include labor, is still putting it in an extremely expensive price point," he said after the meeting.
Duffy warned the cost of filming in Grand Park could exacerbate the problem of "runaway productions," when movies and television shows use locations in Georgia, Louisiana, Canada and other locations offering tax incentives and other discounts.
"We are bleeding jobs," he said. "From a movie standpoint, we've had one big feature done here (in Los Angeles) a year, when the studios are making 20 or 30."
"My entire family has been in this business since the '30s and I've never seen this happen before," he added. "(Our public officials) have been very blase about all of this, and we have to wake up."
Duffy added Grand Park would be a great location for movies and television shows because it's a rare oasis in an urban setting and commands a gorgeous view of City Hall. As a location manager, he himself used the original fountain in the park as a setting in "Melrose Place" and "Moonlighting." The fountain is also seen in the movie "Pretty Woman."
The board's action slashed rental rates by at least 75 percent. Previously, the cost to rent the entire Grand Park, which sits on four city blocks, is $80,000. Now, it's $12,000, with rental rates for each block ranging from $1,920 to $6,400 a day.
But Motion Picture Association of America state government affairs director Sarah Walsh noted the original rental rates for the Grand Park -- before it was renovated and reopened to the public last October -- was only $450 a day.
Other county-owned parks, such the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, and the Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge, charge no more than $6,400 a day and often charge only $3,500.
There are no rental rates for state parks, nor those owned by the city of Los Angeles, though the latter does charge for labor. Filming is also free at state beaches and at Los Angeles City Hall, but the Hollywood Bowl, Music Center and Griffith Park cost $10,000-$20,000 a day.
Supervisor Gloria Molina expressed concern that filming would disrupt programs at the park and shut out members of the public, who attend lunchtime concerts, yoga sessions and other programs organized by the county Performing Arts Center. "I don't think the Grand Park, particularly in its beginnings, is the place to be a backdrop for the film industry," she said.
"I would really like to have the park be available only to the public at this point in time," she said. "Maybe a year down the line, that's something we'd do."
The board did agree to reconsider the rates in six months, and the entertainment industry is likely to stay away until then.
Paul Audley, president of Film L.A., the private nonprofit that processes filming permits for the county, said there has been only one film shoot at Grand Park in the six months since it reopened as "The Park For Everyone."
"The producers didn't know what the filming rental rates were going to be when they booked it," he said. "They were fully committed with equipment and actors and everything else when they were told it was $20,000. They paid that $20,000 but no one has rented the Grand Park since because the rates are just too out of line."
Also on HuffPost:
Atlanta, The Walking Dead
<strong>The Location</strong> Desolate <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/atlanta/" target="_hplink">Atlanta</a> highways, shopping malls, and surrounding suburbia set the scene for season one of AMC’s hit series <em>The Walking Dead</em> (season one, 2010; season two, 2011) in which protagonist Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma and discovers that most of humanity has morphed into undead corpses. In one of the season’s most striking scenes, Grimes rides horseback down Freedom Parkway into an abandoned downtown Atlanta, where just one whiff of prey turns the monsters into an indefatigable mass hungry for some Southern comfort food. <strong> Hideouts</strong> The Center for Disease Control provides such a secure hideout that our rugged survivors throw a party with the stockpiled food and drink supplies, swilling bottles upon bottles of vino with nary a concern about the flesh-eating millions outside – until [SPOILER ALERT] the heroes discover a giant clock counting down the seconds before the generators die and the building self-destructs. (Post-explosion, we can only imagine the characters’ throbbing hangovers.) Our advice for season two: pit stops at <a href="http://www.thevarsity.com" target="_hplink">The Varsity</a> – hot dogs have enough preservatives to survive an apocalypse, no? – and <a href="http://www.worldofcocacola.com" target="_hplink">The World of Coca-Cola</a>. <strong> Chance of Survival: High</strong> The CDC, for as long as it has fuel, presents the best opportunity to hunker down and concoct a cure. Photo: AMC
Austin, Planet Terror
<strong>The Location</strong> Ragtag bands of like-minded freaks, their faces illuminated by an eerie glow, form teeming masses that storm <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/austin/" target="_hplink">Austin</a>’s bars and barbecue joints. This isn’t the plot for Robert Rodriguez’s film<em> Planet Terror </em>(2007) – the bio-weapon-triggered zombie gore-a-thon that combines with Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof to form Grindhouse – it’s the annual South by Southwest Music, Film & Interactive Festival, where smartphone-toting (and tweeting) hipsters converge each spring. If you catch indie film fever and decide to join them next year, enjoy a beer and a movie at <a href="http://www.drafthouse.com/austin" target="_hplink">Alamo Drafthouse Cinema</a>, where you’ll spot the neon sign for The Bone Shack, the fictional barbecue dive in <em>Planet Terror</em> where go-go-dancer Cherry Darling (played by Rose McGowan) nurses a leg wound, several scenes before her leg is completely severed and replaced by a zombie-slaughtering machine gun. <strong>Hideouts</strong> Though set in rural Texas, <em>Planet Terror</em> was shot in and around Austin. Whatever you do, don’t even think about approaching the governor’s mansion (we hear that’s where the most gruesome zombies dwell). Try hiding out with the bat colony that lives beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge (better to become a world-weary vampire than a vacuous zombie). Take comfort in the fact that the Texas Department of Transportation will give you fair warning if a zombie attack is imminent. In July 2009 someone hacked into Austin’s digital road messaging system, normally used to report traffic conditions, and programmed the words to read "The end is near! Caution! Zombies ahead!" <strong> Chance of Survival: Moderate</strong> You have a fighting chance as long as you wear a gas mask, have access to a car, and can drive like the wind. Make like Cherry Darling and hightail it to Mexico. Photo: lomo-cam/Flickr
The Caribbean, Pirates of the Caribbean
<strong>The Location</strong> Okay, we confess: the fourth installment in the popular Pirates franchise was filmed primarily in <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/hawaii/" target="_hplink">Hawaii </a>(on the islands <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/oahu/" target="_hplink">Oahu</a> and <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/Kauai/" target="_hplink">Kauai</a>). We deemed <em>Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides</em> (2011) worthy of making our list, however, as it’s the first Pirates film to feature actual zombies (though hardly the first to scare the living daylights out of us, given the array of sea monsters and pirate ghosts in the first three). And we weren’t about to stoop so low as to include <em>Weekend at Bernie’s 2</em>, the only zombie film (if a partially revived Bernie classifies it as such) to have been shot in the <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/caribbean/" target="_hplink">Caribbean</a>, to our knowledge. Considering that most of the locations in <em>On Stranger Tides</em> are fictional, we’re going to have to ask you to use your imagination (while it’s still in working order!). <strong> Hideouts</strong> An uninhabited island (such as Isla de Muerta, the skull-shaped isle featured in the first Pirates film) could provide quite the safe haven (we use the term loosely) as infection rates would be kept low, and secret hideouts would abound. Pray that vicious mermaids aren’t lurking nearby, though, for wherever they are, Blackbeard and his ghoulish zombie crew are sure to follow (mermaid tears are vital for eternal life). Scarily, the real-world Caribbean may offer just as damned a fate. Don’t plan on hiding out anywhere near the Bermuda Triangle, notoriously blemished with the deaths of countless sailors and Navy pilots. It’s even said to be haunted by the ghost of none other than Blackbeard himself! As crazy as it sounds, your best bet might be Gitmo (the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba) – it’s well guarded, but will it keep zombies from coming in as well as it keeps detainees from getting out? <strong>Chance of Survival: Low</strong> Unless you’ve got trusty Jack Sparrow by your side, always one to escape the most dire of circumstances, don’t count on a lengthy future. Failing this, it might help to off Blackbeard, as per the movie, and hope the zombie crew goes down with him! Photo: madmarv00/Flickr
Las Vegas, Resident Evil
<strong>The Location</strong> As a convoy of zombie apocalypse survivors trudges through the Mojave Desert in <em>Resident Evil: Extinction </em>(2007), the sand and dunes all blend together. But when the group heads to <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/las_vegas/" target="_hplink">Vegas</a> to gather fuel and supplies, the scenery starts to get interesting. A worn and sandblasted Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, the “fabulous” barely visible, invites the survivors into a ghost city. The Nevada desert has crept into Las Vegas and taken it back. Gone are the lights, bustle, and glitz of the Las Vegas Strip; only its ersatz landmark resorts remain. A zombie attack closes in on the group under the Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower, and their only escape is up the tower, which makes for a very dramatic and interesting battle. <strong>Hideouts</strong> You’ll have to get creative in Vegas. Hotels and casinos are a bad bet; there are too many corners and slot machines behind which zombies could lurk (and it might be hard to tell them apart from the eyes-glazed-over nickel slot players). The undead are notorious for their poor coordination and cannot swim well, so we recommend large bodies of water. To shake off a handful of zombie pursuers, take advantage of the eight acres of Bellagio Fountains. Or, head to the Shark Reef Aquarium at <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/Las_Vegas/hotels/review/Mandalay_Bay/" target="_hplink">Mandalay Bay</a> or more serious situations concerning larger swarms. The hunters will become hunted in 1.6 million gallons of water swimming with sharks, sawfish, giant rays, piranha, and jellies. <strong>Chance of Survival: Low</strong> The T-Virus infected zombies are only part of the problem. Food, supplies, and gas are hard to come by. All the money in Vegas couldn’t buy a trip to the Alaskan safe zone. Extinction is imminent, although even that can't prevent Cher from taking the stage for her last last show at <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/Las_Vegas/hotels/review/Caesars_Palace/" target="_hplink">Caesar's Palace</a>. Photo: angel.ite/Flickr
London, 28 Days Later
<strong>The Location</strong> Let’s be honest, when a viral outbreak of any sort occurs, it helps when you aren’t in one of the most populous cities in the world, filled with millions of potentially infected, blood-thirsty crazies. This nightmare is brought to life with chilling precision in Danny Boyle’s acclaimed horror film <em>28 Days Later</em> (2002), in which the city of <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/London/" target="_hplink">London</a> is practically unrecognizable, the usually bustling sidewalks of Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street all but eerily deserted. Even Manchester United football (i.e. soccer) fans, a perennially rowdy staple here, seem to be in hiding. <strong>Hideouts</strong> Perhaps best not to seek shelter in crowded hotspots like Trafalgar Square, King’s Cross, and Camden Markets. You could test out the London Underground (hey, it worked during WWII) or despite its strong association with torture and death, you may want to seek shelter within the prisons of the Tower of London. No one would blame you, however, for adopting the more resigned, yet highly realistic, approach to make the most of what could very well be your last night before transitioning to full-blown cannibalism. Why not, then, bunker down in one of London’s countless homey pubs (we recommend The Red Lion in Crown Passage) and enjoy a classic pint of old ale, or get into the spirit of things and down a Bloody Mary (we hear the best ones can be found at The Bear on Camberwell Road). Or, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, venture out and catch a show at the <a href="http://www.oldvictheatre.com" target="_hplink">Old Vic</a> and hope the cast live long enough to reach their curtain call. Want a final bird’s eye view of the majestic (albeit infested) cityscape before you bid adieu? Hop on the <a href="http://www.londoneye.com" target="_hplink">London Eye</a> – we’re betting it’d be free. <strong>Chance of Survival: Low-Moderate</strong> Things look bleak, but here’s an idea: See how many Bloody Marys you can stomach, and you might very well blend in with the zombies! Photo: AndyRobertsPhotos/Flickr
Los Angeles, Thriller
<strong>The Location</strong> Although not a full-length feature, <em>Thriller</em> (1983) was the first big-budget music video with as much emphasis on the story line as the song, which makes it a bona fide short film. Shot in and around <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/los_angeles/" target="_hplink">Los Angeles</a>, the seminal video showcased the Palace Theatre – the oldest remaining Orpheum vaudeville theater in the country – in newly revitalized downtown L.A.; a warehouse district in East Los Angeles, where the dance sequences were filmed; and the historic Angelino Heights neighborhood, considered one of L.A.’s first suburbs. <strong>Hideouts</strong> We’d recommend staying away from any abandoned warehouses in East L.A. – that just sounds like a bad horror movie cliché waiting to happen. The Palace Theatre, on the other hand, is one of 13 historic structures listed on the <a href="http://www.laconservancy.org" target="_hplink">Los Angeles Conservancy</a>’s historic downtown self-guided tour. While an open auditorium may not be the best place to hide, you could hole up at the landmark Millennium Biltmore (the hotel also has spent time on screen in films like Pretty in Pink and The Sting) or the Los Angeles Central Public Library (mindless zombies have no use for books, right?). In addition, the Conservancy offers guided tours of Angelino Heights (first Saturday of the month at 10am; $10), where you’ll find beautifully preserved Victorian houses on display. Just watch out for zombies punching through the walls and floors, and make sure you know all the available exits. <strong>Chance of Survival: High</strong> After all, the zombie dance sequence in <em>Thriller</em> was all just a bad dream. Or was it? Photo: the_toe_stubber/Flickr
Maine, Pet Sematary
<strong>The Location</strong> The release of <em>Pet Sematary</em> (1989; misspelling taken from the sign that hung there) prompted the name “Gage” to be permanently removed from expecting parents’ lists of potential baby names . . . or at least it should have. Inspired by, and filmed in, author Stephen King’s home state of <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/maine/" target="_hplink">Maine</a>, the movie “brought to life” (pun intended) King’s disturbing story about a cemetery that brings any creature (human or animal) buried there back from the dead. The deadly road central to the film’s plot was inspired by King’s experience living on a busy thoroughfare in Orrington, Maine, while teaching at the University of Maine for a brief time. <strong>Hideouts</strong> Most folks who visit or relocate to Maine, like the characters in <em>Pet Sematary</em>, go to get away from something. The further north you drive, the less populated it gets. If you’re too spooked by the potential of running into an undead cat with a taste for flesh to explore the secluded towns that inspired the setting of the film, go at least as far as Bangor (the nearest city to the fictional town of Ludlow). The coast of Maine is beautiful and there are plenty of fun stops along the way, like L.L. Bean’s Flagship store in Freeport, the perfect place to grab some zombie-fighting gear. In Bangor, check out 177-year-old Mt. Hope Cemetery, where pivotal scenes of <em>Pet Sematary</em> were filmed. If you’re in the mood for ghosts instead of zombies, join the East Coast Ghost Trackers at “the first Fort Knox,” also in Bangor, for a guided tour (Oct. 8 and 15; 7-10pm). Built in the mid-19th century, Fort Knox was featured on the SyFy Channel’s <em>Ghost Hunters</em> series. For the ultimate scare, visit “Fright at the Fort” for what the Bangor Daily News called the best Halloween experience in the state (Oct. 21, 22, 28, 29; 5:30-9pm). <strong>Chance of Survival: High</strong> Luckily for visitors, those buried at the Pet Sematary come back to terrorize their loved ones, not strangers. Photo: all of olive/Flickr
New York City, I Am Legend
<strong>The Location</strong> Weeds crowding Times Square, deer prancing through the streets, and even lions roaring on Broadway (presumably escaped from the Bronx Zoo, the only zoo in the city that houses them) make up the eerily empty – by day – version of <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/new_york_city/" target="_hplink">New York City</a> in the Will Smith flick <em>I am Legend </em>(2007). Filming practically evacuated entire sections of the city – including several blocks of Fifth Avenue – to create the deserted city landscape; digital effects completed the illusion. <strong>Hideouts</strong> Under normal circumstances, scientist Robert Neville’s pad would be enviable: A townhouse at 11 Washington Square Park North, with views of the just-renovated park’s iconic arch. In a post-apocalyptic world, this hideout protects him from “darkseekers,” the zombie-like creatures born of a doomed cancer cure who now roam the streets of New York City (and presumably the entire world) after sunset. Daytime supplies safety as Neville circles Manhattan, visiting the South Street Seaport to radio any survivors, hunting deer for food in Times Square, and trapping zombies near Grand Central Station for experiments in his home laboratory, where he frantically searches for a cure. Our suggestion: Hunker down at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (surely even zombies know to steer clear of that station). <strong> Chance of Survival: Low</strong> Bridges and tunnels connecting Manhattan to the mainland were bombed out to stop the virus’ spread; survivors must subsist on the concrete jungle’s meager natural resources (or find a boat to sail across the Hudson). Photo: justinfeed/Flickr
Pennsylvania, Night of the Living Dead
<strong>The Location</strong> The blood-splattered shots and half-devoured bodies (which were really roast hams covered in Bosco chocolate syrup) of the <em>Night of the Living Dead</em> (1968) were filmed in Western <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/pennsylvania/" target="_hplink">Pennsylvania</a>. Opening scenes were filmed in Evans City Cemetery, which, in a creepy turn of graveyard events, could not be used to film the 30th anniversary edition because a tornado had unearthed several graves. The farmhouse where the characters spend a majority of the film fighting amongst themselves about how to ward off and escape “those things” was located in the town of Zelienople; the owner of the home was already planning on demolishing it and loaned it to the filmmakers. <strong> Hideouts</strong> Holing up in a farmhouse – particularly the cellar, which proves to be a deathtrap – is obviously a bad idea when an approaching horde of hungry zombies is growing in number. Instead, speed the escape car to nearby Pittsburgh, where hiding places abound. Try to blend in at <a href="http://www.scarehouse.com" target="_hplink">Scarehouse</a>, ranked as one of “America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions” by Travel Channel, and your brain-hungry captors will likely confuse you as one of their own. Or, gather your weapons and ride the cable-powered funicular to the top of the <a href="http://www.duquesneincline.org" target="_hplink">Duquesne Incline</a>. Once to the top, jam the funicular's gears with a nearby stick or branch, clear the gift shop shelves of pretzels, potato chips, and soda for sustenance, and keep an eye on all of downtown Pittsburgh until the danger passes. <strong>Chance of Survival: High</strong> These first-generation 1968 zombies are dull and slow. They’re so determined to bust down the doors of your farmhouse hideout that they probably won’t notice if you escape. Just take care to leave behind any dimwitted companions who might accidentally shoot you or set fire to the escape car. Photo: Ross Griff/Flickr
Valdosta, Georgia, Zombieland
<strong>The Location</strong> Though chronicling an epic road trip across a zombie-infested U.S., much of the filming for <em>Zombieland</em> (2009) took place in <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/georgia/" target="_hplink">Georgia.</a> Key scenes play out at “Pacific Playland,” the real-life <a href="http://www.wildadventures.net" target="_hplink">Wild Adventures Amusement Park</a> in Valdosta, Georgia. The 170-acre park boasts over 50 rides and a 17-acre water park. A slew of new roller coasters and water attractions have revitalized this local favorite since Herschend Family Entertainment bought the park in 2007. <strong>Hideouts</strong> As Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) find out, a theme park is not the best choice for avoiding zombies, particularly at night. Thrill rides like the Firecracker and the Rattler may offer temporary respite, but once the ride stops you’re right back in the zombie-filled crowds. We’d suggest heading to the mini golf course for an easy alternative weapon if you find yourself low on ammo, while the nearby go-karts could serve as escape vehicles in a pinch. If possible, lure the zombies into Wild Adventures’ animal exhibits where elephants, black bears, rhinos, and lions will make quick work of your undead pursuers. <strong>Chance of Survival: Moderate</strong> Unlike traditional zombies, these mad cow-infected monsters are super fast moving. However, they still aren’t all that bright. Make sure you’re packing heat, and beware of public restrooms (one of Columbus’s 32 rules of survival). Photo: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment