Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why Do I Have so Much Stuff?

My husband and I are very orderly people. We put things away; there's not a lot of clutter; I continually stuff bags full and donate the detritus of our lives to the Salvation Army. Yet our garage is a rat warren. In fact, a rat could be living in there and we would not know it. Even though I constantly try to get rid of things, why do I still have so much stuff?

I'd like to get rid of the stuff in the garage, but I don't feel right about throwing it away; maybe it has a greater value than I would donate to 'Sally's; maybe I think I might need it or want it or use it someday. I have a bunch of antiquey things that belonged to my mother. Talk about the guilt associated with giving that stuff away! George Carlin once said that houses were simply big boxes to hold all our stuff. I know everyone else is in the same boat. Just look at the garages full of stuff as you drive through your neighborhood.

I started providing some retail advice to a woman who owns a retail store selling green products, and have become more sensitive to the fact that we are such a wasteful society. But even if we all turned over a new leaf and tried to buy new stuff that can be used over and over again, what do we do with the old stuff?

Anybody want some cute little porcelain kitties?


Friday, September 17, 2010

We Have a Movie We Can Support!

I am so excited I can hardly stand it. A movie not only made in California, but one predicted to win the box office wars this weekend. Easy A, a take off on the Scarlet Letter was filmed in, wait for it, wait for it, Ojai, California. I think that is delicious. Emma Stone, the lead is supposed to be excellent.

Ojai is a family joke in my household. My husband has wanted to visit Ojai since we moved here from New York 10 years ago. And me, I keep promising we'll go, but I'm always working at one thing or another. I wonder if I get him to take me to the movies this week it counts as 'visiting' Ojai.

The other movies released this week are all filmed elsewhere: Devil in Toronto; The Town in Boston; Leaves of Grass in Louisiana; Never Let Me Go in London; and Jack Goes Boating in New York.


How Many Jobs Can You Create for $110 Million?

If you are in LA County you would have to say 55. What? Is that true? We received $110 million from the stimulus package and we created/saved just 55 jobs? Why didn't we just give 55 people $2 million each, and at 3% interest they would have a nice income of $60 thousand a year. Or, why don't we just throw money off the back of a train?


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Movies Approved for a California Tax Incentive

We're going to bring home the bacon this Fall! Below are listed the 27 film projects that were approved for California's tax incentive program this year. The list may change a bit as projects may fall by the wayside, but look, just look at all of the jobs that will be created over the next months. A lot of Indie projects, some TV, some feature films. The date associated with each entry is the scheduled date for start of filming.

I'm going to do a little happy dance right now.


21 & Over
21 & Over Productions, LLC

A Girl and A Gun
All You Need Productions, LLC

Beautiful Girl
Screen Gems Productions, Inc.

Breaking the Girl
BTG Productions, LLC

Steinbeck LLC

Cradle and All
Screen Gems Productions, Inc.

Drive Film Productions, LLC

Fixing Pete
Moreal Productions, Inc.

Glory Daze
Horizon Scripted Television, Inc.

I'm With The Band
CBS Films Inc.

Josh Productions LLC

Just 45 Minutes from Broadway
Just 45 Minutes from Broadway, LLC

Woodridge Productions, Inc.

Knife Fight
Divisadero Pictures, LLC

L.A. Gothic
Principal Entertainment/Echo Lake

Lives of the Saints
Lives of the Saints, Inc.

Love Will Grow
Tavira Productions, Inc.

Men of a Certain Age
Turner North Center Productions, Inc.

Kidplay, Llc

Pretty Little Liars
Horizon Scripted Television, Inc.

Takin' it Back
Elixir Entertainment

Thanks Giving Engagement
The Gardeners (JPG), LLC

Three Little Words
CBS Films Inc.

Untitled A.B. 2010
Tiny Little Steps LLC

Walter the Farting Dog
New Regency Productions, Inc.

We Bought a Zoo
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

DW Studios Productions LLC

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is There Viagra for the Movies?

The industry needs something to enhance performance. The weekend box office was wimpy again. The only movie that had a wide release did what it was supposed to do, but it didn't really get it up. About $24 million in ticket sales. Some of the limited releases didn't even make it to a $ million.

Maybe I should switch to supporting the aerospace industry. They are turning out drones by the thousands near San Diego, and employing 10,000 people as a result. They even make teeny tiny surveillance drones the size of an insect that can fly in through your window and see and hear what you're doing and saying.

I'm going to start talking to the mosquitos.


Friday, September 10, 2010


I'm not even going to mention the movies being released this week. There is only one that has a wide release, the rest, very limited. I couldn't find any made in California. And without exception, all of them received reviews in the basement. I mean really horrible. Where is the quality? Or as that old lady used to say "Where's the beef." Read a book this weekend, or charge your Kindle.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Michael Klick is My Hero

Let's have a round of applause as we induct a new Hero to the Filmed in California Heroes Hall of Fame. Read Mr. Richardson's 24 reasons why it makes sense to shoot in LA, and you'll see why Michael Klick is our new inductee.

24 Reasons to Shoot in LA
by Steve Richardson

Michael Klick is the Unit Production Manager for "24," the wildly successful Fox series, just completing its 4th wildly successful season. As UPM, Michael oversees it all when it comes to production -- personnel, equipment, props, right on down to catering.

"My job is to spend the money and to spend it well. Once you do the math, LA's the place. LA's the place to get more bang for your buck."

A San Francisco Bay Area native with 35 years in the business, Michael gives us the 24 reasons to shoot in LA:

1) Talent pool - "Deeper than anywhere in the world. In Atlanta, there's maybe two A crews. Here, I've got a directory of 35 Key Grips who I know personally, can count on. If somebody's sick or booked, I can always find a top quality replacement."

2) Support structure - "There's 100 years of people, businesses, and experience here knowing how the film and TV business works. If I call a caterer in Kansas City, can I be sure they'll handle it if I want to push a meal back an hour and a half?"

3) Rental - "Camera, props, everything - I've got it all just 15 minutes away. If I want a specific, unique prop, I've got ten places that can turn on a dime to get it to me."

4) Repair - "If a camera breaks in Des Moines, I'm down for who knows how long? Here, I'm 15 minutes from Panavision."

5) Save a penny, lose a dime - "I might be able to save a little money on locations and permits by shooting in Montana. But I've got to bring two extra sets of equipment, of everything, in case something goes down."

6) Time is of the essence - "Especially in TV. I've got to turn a show around in 8 days. If my dolly tracks get damaged, I'm out a day or more trying to fly in replacements. I can't afford that. It's 12%-25% of my shooting time down the drain. For dolly tracks?"

7) General understanding among vendors - "All the stores here know the deal, know about 'clothes taken on approval.' They let you take the stuff, try it on the actors, bring back and only pay for what you keep. You think Marshall Fields in Chicago's going to let me do that?"

8) Vendors with savvy - "I sign to rent something, then the schedule changes and I don't need it. People in LA understand -- constant change is a part of the process. They want your business in the future. In Charlotte, I'm going to run into some guy who's just not flexible, doesn't understand the specific needs of TV."

9) Geography - "I can shoot in the high desert one day, mountains and streams. Then the next day I'm on a dock in Los Angeles Harbor. What other place in the world offers that?"

10) Diversity of a big city - "Different ethnicities for backgrounds, the World War II bunkers in Palos Verdes, the old Unocal offices downtown. There's just so much to choose from here -- people and places."

11) Specialized personnel - "I shot a pilot in Florida once. We had to fly people in from LA to do all our special effects, green screen. Here In Los Angeles, I've got 13top-notch vendors in my office after a few phone calls."

12) Monitoring - "We can look in on locations, check out production gear. See how the special effects are going. All within a few hours, all within the city limits."

13) Life on hold - "Your life's not on hold in LA. You go home every day. It's no fun being in an apartment in Nebraska for 9 months, by yourself. How many magazines can you read?"

14) Family - "People here can take an afternoon off to make their daughter's piano recital. They can sign up to coach their son in little league. You just can't do those kinds of things if you're far from home."

15) Dentist - "She's right here in town with all my info. Same with my doctor, lawyer, everything. It's all right here."

16) Landmarks, location - "We shot this amazing scene in the LA Coliseum, climax to the Season II. Beautiful. Wow. For Season III we just landed a helicopter in Pershing Square on a weekend Sunday morning. Last week we staged a shootout involving two helicopters, landed another copter on a 14 story helipad, on top of a parking structure, at night. Incredible view of downtown LA. Fantastic."

17) Motel food - "Did you ever really want a nice plate of sushi? In Western Pennsylvania?"

18) Weather - "Have you ever shot in Alaska, outside all day? Dealt with keeping equipment up and running in freezing weather? Ever shot in Guatemala with the humidity? Or shut down for a week because of the rain in London?"

19) Cooperation from the locals - "We just shot six nights straight in a 128 unit apartment building complex. The people there were really great, amazingly cooperative. Maybe it's because they understand how important the business is to the local economy? I don't know, you just generally get a lot of cooperation from the local people here in LA."

20) Golf, tennis - "People have their golfing buddies, their regular tennis dates. They can actually make reservations and be there every weekend. If you're out in the middle of nowhere in Missouri, you're a five hour flight from your regular Saturday tennis game. The nearest golf course might be 30 miles away."

21) Location scouting - "I know the area, my scouts know the area. They can find me what I want in no time. You don't have to re-discover, you know where to find a nice rocky hillside."

22) Actors - "The major actors, the character actors, so many of them live in the LA area. There is such a lot of talent to draw on, and you don 't have to fly them in and put them up in a motel. They drive themselves to the set."

23) The "back door" - "My job's not just 'can I get us up and going,' but 'what happens when there's a problem?' Is there a back door for me to get through, a solution. The depth of talent and equipment makes my life easier when things go wrong. And things always go wrong."

24) Surprises -- "I'm in this business a long time, and I'm still discovering places. My location manager and I stumbled on this enormous warehouse where they refurbish the space shuttle fuel tanks. Wow, what a place to shoot. There's so much going on in LA, so many different possible locations, so many different new things. I'm constantly happily surprised. I like that. A happy surprise."

Michael Klick has worked in documentaries, commercials, and television as a successful producer, director and UPM for over 35 years. Like many of us, he's still trying to figure out what he wants to do when he grows up.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

We Met with the Film Department Today

Jim Horwitz and I met with the officers in charge of production at The Film Department. They were gracious with their time, and were, like many of the people we have met from the industry, very interested in getting their point across. They live here, their company is located here, they would rather film in California. But making movies is such a risky business that they must take advantage of every tax incentive that they can get their hands on. In their case, for several reasons, they are not able to apply to the incentive program offered by California.

There used to be 38 independent producers; now there are 11. The industry used to make 650 movies a year; now they make 400.

I could see the wheels turning around in Jim's head during and after the meeting. You can't imagine what an odd couple Jim and I make. Both of us weigh too much and we're older than the hills. But we have a third trait in common. We're both as stubborn as hell. We are not going to drop this campaign, even if we don't know what we're doing yet. We will figure it out.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The American Wins the Weekend

What movie received an average of a D grade in exit interviews and still won the long week end box office wars? Clooney has to be the reason that The American came out on top. Machete did respectable numbers, primarily due to Hispanic viewers, but Going the Distance with Drew Barrymore did rather poorly. Labor Day weekend is usually not a big movie going holiday, but ticket sales equaled last year, so the studios breathed a sigh of relief.

Interesting is the continued strength of Inception particularly in foreign markets. It will be released in China soon. Only about 20 films are allowed to show in China every year. What will the Chinese think of the dream within a dream? Maybe they will follow the story better than Westerners. They have that whole inscrutable oriental mind thing going for them. And just as a reminder, Inception was filmed partially in LA.

I read a post from a director who has missed 6 months of his child's first 2 and 1/2 years because he is always working away from home. So it isn't always about just having a job, it's the quality of one's life and what one ends up missing that can never be recovered. I sent him a message asking him to meet with Jim Horwitz and me. Hope he responds. He doesn't think anyone is addressing the issues he raises. Little does he know that Super Sharon and Jungle Jim are hot on the trail of a solution.


Monday, September 6, 2010

If You Don't Have a Job What Does Labor Day Mean?

Labor Day is supposed to be a day for labor to get a day off. I wonder why they didn't call it do not labor day, or day at the beach, or the day to sleep in? If you don't have a job, then what does it mean? The day we sit around wishing we could labor? I don't think we need Labor Day any longer. To many people it's a cruel reminder of the fact that too many people aren't laboring and wish they could.

Here is an interesting post on the web site,, about a man that is laboring far from home. 'Shootmoviesinla' received permission to publish this man's thoughts, I did not. But I suppose I can tell you to go to their web site to read it.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

September 5 - September 11, 2010

So it begins, a new Fall schedule; some new and some renewed. How can something be new again? Renewed is a strange term. Let's say some are returning.

September 7

10:00 PM
Sons of Anarchy (FX)
Filming somewhere in California. Charming California has been spotted all over the San Joaquin Valley.

September 8

8:00 PM
America's Next Top Model (CW)<
Flip flops between NY and LA; currently flipped to LA

9:00 PM
Hellcats (CW)

10:00 PM
Terriers (FX)
San Diego

September 9

8:00 PM
The Vampire Diaries (CW)
Georgia? Really?

9:00 PM
Nikita (CW)
Toronto & LA

September 11

8:00 PM
Cops (Fox)
Films all over. 140 cites and counting. Do we really want them filming here? It's disgusting

9:00 PM
America's Most Wanted (Fox)
Washington DC

So, you can watch Sons of Anarchy, America's Next Top Model, Terriers and half of Nikita. Just kidding, you watch what you would like, just consider these as a strong option.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

It's So Hot

How could anyone shoot on location in So Cal today? How did people get along without air conditioning a hundred years ago? How do they get along without it today? The beaches are crammed today with people that don't have air conditioning, or can't afford to turn it on. What if you lived in the center of the State where it is even worse and there's no beach to visit?

People must be going to the movies today for that super cooled air accompanied by hopefully a movie filmed in California. If you don't buy the popcorn, it's affordable. Do they kick you out when the movie is over? Or can you stay in your seat and watch it again?

Revenues are up for the movies this year. Not because the studios have turned out a lot of good film, but because of the 3D glass rentals and slightly higher ticket prices. Attendance is actually down by about 3%. Is that a comment on the economy or the quality of what is being offered? During the Great Depression, people went to the movies to forget about their problems. Today's movie goer is a little more sophisticated, after all we have been marinated in movies, TV, DVD, You Tube, etc. We are more discerning, so why have movies become less so? The studios are afraid right along with us.

So what are you going to do today? Can you afford to let the air conditioner chug along all day?


Friday, September 3, 2010

Not in My Backyard

The three movies vying for the top slot at the box office are Machete, Going the Distance, and The American were all filmed elsewhere; Austin, New York and Italy respectively. Machete gets the strongest reviews of the three, but even it doesn't get all thumbs up anywhere that I could find.

You might as well stay home, unless you're like me and feel you have to go see Drew Barrymore simply because she's like every one's daughter and you have to go see her school play. But don't say I didn't warn you, it's not reviewing well, and though I like to make my own mind up about most things, it's currently ticking along around a 48% approval rate on Rotten Tomato.