Thursday, March 31, 2011

Good for You Gutentag

I'm proud to say I know Ed Gutentag. Why? Because this guy is making a difference. Can you say that? Can I? Not so much.

Ed started on Facebook I think, and then developed a full blown blog at where he has thousands of followers. He keeps us up to date on the progress or lack thereof, in the fight to keep film production in California. Ed's wife used to shop in my store in Woodland Hills (before I closed it down because so many of my entertainment industry customer's lost their jobs and no longer had the luxury of doing that shopping thing).

I've had some good conversations with Ed, starting with his objections to the non-profit lobbying group Bring Hollywood Home that I'm involved in, and developing into discussions of what needs to be done to save the entertainment industry. He's a passionate, articulate man who has become a sounding board for the disenfranchised below the line worker bees, who made the entertainment industry godzillions of dollars.

Last Tuesday Gutentag teamed up with FilmworksLA.Com and Tia Carrere to shoot the first of many PSA's that will air in The Mann Theater Chain around Los Angeles explaining why film production is so important to our economy.

Mike Kehoe and Ed Co-directed the shoot with a cast and crew of almost 100 people. Todd Lingren,VP of FilmLA was able to secure a deal with The Mann Theaters to run these PSA's in front of the movies that play at The Mann Theaters in Los Angeles.

Way to go. Now, you can see the PSA before you watch a movie that was probably shot in some other state or country.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Filmed in California: Superman Has Flown Away

Filmed in California: Superman Has Flown Away: "Zack Snyder seems to have deserted LA for the Windy City. He's flying a lot of people in from California to make the latest Superman film (..."

Superman Has Flown Away

Zack Snyder seems to have deserted LA for the Windy City. He's flying a lot of people in from California to make the latest Superman film (for obvious reasons, this is where the talent lives). At least our people will be working, even if small business won't be getting a needed shot in the arm from a really, really big budget ($175 million)movie. Some other prominent movies filmed recently in Chicago include Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

I don't know what the incentives are for the individual films, but of course California has nothing on the table for big budget films.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

International Women's Film Festival

I had an opportunity to actually bring two divergent parts of my life together this weekend. Even though I try to explain the connection between filming in California and the economy and women's health issues, it never became easier for me to draw that connection than at the International Women's Film Festival.

The first night of the festival was devoted to showing "Pink Skies", a documentary about the successful achievement of a sky diving record when 181 women from all over the world, many of them breast cancer survivors, Jumped for the Cure together. It was a stunning sight. I can only imagine the intense connection these women must have felt as they linked hands in air high over the Arizona desert.

The opening of the festival benefited Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Los Angeles County, and we have Diana Means, President & CEO of the Alliance of Women Film Makers to thank for always supporting the cause. I spoke to the audience about the importance of what Komen has achieved, also against great odds; just like the women spread out across the summer sky, Komen has brought together hundreds of thousands of people across the world to join the fight to end breast cancer for ever.

During my remarks, I tried out a new tag line that I thought of one night when I couldn't sleep. Actually Stewart McKeough, head of Corporate Development for five of the California Affiliates asked me to think of a theme for a new campaign that he would like Komen LA to launch, to try to fill the gap between services available for screening and diagnosis and the actual need. If you think of the 1,144 people who will die of breast cancer in LA County this year, it's obvious that a lot of people are not being screened early enough. An Affiliate raises money, the majority of which stays in the community where those funds are raised to save lives. Yes, it's true that Komen has raised extraordinary amounts for research, but they also have a mission to keep people alive through early detection and encouraging healthy life styles. The tag line that I test drove is I Deserve to Know (if I have breast cancer). And that right to know extends to every person regardless of their situation.

I was pleased to speak to women in the film industry. They have a tough road to walk in an industry that has been an all-male boys club. You go girls. And please, try to film in California.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

More on Portantino Hearings

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, at a hearing at Pasadena City Hall last Friday, claims the California Film and Television Tax Credit is working. "The credit is working and it is auditable," he says.

Portantino and Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes have introduced A.B. 1069, a bill to extend the tax credits beyond their planned 2013 sunset.


Monday, March 21, 2011

I Started Another Blog Today

My new blog has a singular purpose: to sell the books I write. Writing a novel may be the easier part of the process; finding someone who wants to read it may be more difficult.

First you must find a literary agent who will read the book and want to represent you and it. The process from completing a manuscript to bringing it to market and selling one or any is analogous to threading your way along a narrow path; on one side is a sheer wall of rock, on the other side of the path is a drop of a few hundred or thousand feet, depending on how resilient you are. You can fall off the path at any point. If you're optimistic, the fall is not so far; if you're not, the fall might be a few miles and impossible to recover from.

The literary agent sells the book to a publisher who gives you a boost up the path, but soon you're slogging along under your own steam again, and watch out, here you can fall off the path again, for you are responsible for building a base, spreading the word, and touting the heck out of this book you thought was the great american novel that no body seems to want to read.

So I've created a new blog with my name on it. Really, it has my name on it. Sharon Spencer Schlesinger is the title of the blog. And I'll take you along on this journey, and maybe when we reach that point in the process, you'll buy one of my books. And maybe you'll learn how to get your own book published.

Sharon Spencer Schlesinger

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tax Credits have Generated $2.2 Billion in Economic Activity

There was a hearing on Friday about the effectiveness of the state’s film and television tax credit program. It was led by State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D – La CaƱada Flintridge), chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Preservation of California’s Entertainment Industry.

This all came from an article written by Joe Piasecki in the LA Times.

State tax credits designed to keep film and television shoots from leaving California have generated $2.2 billion in economic activity since 2009, according to testimony given Friday during a public hearing in Pasadena. Since the summer of 2009, the state has issued $300 million in tax credits to film and television companies in order to compete with incentives offered by other states and countries that over the past decade have lured billions in industry spending away from California.

“California’s film industry is under threat, and its dominance has been threatened for at least 10 years. We no longer take this industry for granted,” said Amy Lemisch, director of the California Film Commission, which administers the tax credit program.

Lemisch argued that film and television shoots stimulate the state economy by spending $100,000 or more per day per on-location shoot in California. The short-lived FX series “Terriers,” for example, spent $16.4 million filming one season of episodes in San Diego, she said.

In total, the state’s tax incentive program has resulted in 116 projects spending an estimated $2.2 billion filming in California rather than in other states and countries. That figure includes $728 million in wages to below-the-line workers (basically everyone but actors, directors, writers and producers).

“We’re talking about something that’s not just Los Angeles-centric,” Portantino said in reaction to those numbers, which included shoots that took place throughout the state.

Sounds like the advocates for continuing/expanding California's tax incentive program did a good job on Friday, now is anyone listening?


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On Sunday I Went to the Race for the Cure

I've been volunteering for Susan G. Komen for the Cure for many years. I can't even guess how many hours I've devoted to one event or another, or how many other volunteers that I have recruited and trained. I don't mention this because I'm looking for approbation, a pat on the back, but because I know there are thousands like me. Thousands and thousands.

I am just one in an army of men and women who work away, diligently, receiving their reward from their own sense of doing the right thing and possibly moving the needle closer to a world without breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter. Or at the very least, pushing cancer into a corner where it may rush out every so often, but there is someone or something to put it down for the count. Take that you slimy, perverted asshole bastard!

I saw some of that army on Sunday at Dodger Stadium at the LA County Race for the Cure. It took a whole year to prepare and a handful of hours later it was over, but such a rush, such a sense of community and hope. We raised a boatload of money, 75% of which will go for diagnosis and screening for the under-served in LA County. Did you know that early detection, i.e. a mammogram, can reduce mortality rates by 15 to 30%. 40,000 plus will die of breast cancer in this country this year. If we could detect the disease early, we could save 6,000 to 12,000 from dying. Did you know that? Do you think that breast cancer is the least of your worries when you can't find a job? Think again.