J.C. Calciano’s second movie, “eCupid” is just what West Hollywood officials want more of — quality, small-scale location filming.
This week, as the West Hollywood City Council voted 3-2 to make the city more film friendly, Calciano’s crew started shooting at two locations on Santa Monica Boulevard.
“We make films so people all over the world see that West Hollywood is a place to come and be accepted as you are,” Calciano said Tuesday at East/West Lounge, where he was filming.
Next his crew will move a few blocks to Marco’s Trattoria for the gay-themed romantic comedy movie. Actress Morgan Fairchild will be making a cameo, Calciano said.
The council action directs the city’s public information office to work with businesses and community partners to examine film policies in the city and to better balance the needs of the industry with those of the residents through regular meetings. City officials are considering options to accommodate larger production trucks and recently the city lowered their permit fees for smaller productions.
But Mayor John Heilman and Mayor Pro Tempore John Duran voted no on the measure, arguing that they thought the city does a great job already, and the policy seemed redundant.
“I think filming is really important in West Hollywood,” Heilman said. “I just felt it wasn’t necessary for the council to do anything.”
Heilman said he also wanted to base council action on facts and figures, but the staff report mentions film industry professionals “anecdotally” say that the city has work to do, especially on filming fees. Duran said he thought examining the issue any further was a waste of city staff time.
“I don’t think we have an agenda about what we are doing,” said Helen Goss, a public information officer for the city. “What we really are trying to do is listen to the various interests.”
Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath, who initiated the council item, said the idea is to entice more filming to the area while also being careful to not to have film production on every corner.
“We are encouraging the film industry to come to us, so we can craft policy that’s welcoming,” Horvath said.
On any given day, there are several film productions shooting anywhere in city, said Eddie Robinson, the city’s film liaison.
“There isn’t a day in which we’re not filming,” Robinson said.
Since the economy has improved, Robinson said the number of film permits issued has been steadily increasing. There was a 12 percent increase in permits this year over last.
From June 2009 to June 2010, the city received approximately $328,000 in film fees, and 211 film permits were issued for 611 film days. The year before, the city received about $307,000 in film fees, with 205 permits issued for 533 film days.
Some popular locations for filming include the Pacific Design Center, as well as clubs and restaurants along the Sunset Strip. Recent feature films shot in West Hollywood include “Inception”, “Greenberg,” “Fame,” “Dinner for Schmucks,” “London Boulevard” and “Lions for Lambs.”
Kristen Trzcinski, a media manager with the West Hollywood Marketing and Visitor Bureau, said she hopes the city council action will get residents and Hollywood professionals excited about filming.
“Anything that gets West Hollywood in the spotlight is great,” Trzcinski said.
Horvath said the fees filmmakers are charged in West Hollywood are in line with Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. In April, the West Hollywood City Council approved two new categories of film permit fees aimed at reducing costs for low-impact filming on private property, particularly in the commercial areas of the city.
That made it less expensive for Calciano’s smaller production, and was only charged a nominal cleanup fee for using East/West as a location. The city also doesn’t charge fees to film students.
“West Hollywood is a central hub for the gay community, one of the main spots in the world,” Calciano said. “It’s important to have more positive-message films.”