By SHEL SEGAL
The film industry in Monrovia has been picking up recently after a decline for several months, a Monrovia city official said on Monday.
Diane Delmatoff, management analyst for the city of Monrovia, said the rise in popularity in reality programming had really hurt the city, which issues permits to film within in boundaries, mainly in Old Town along Myrtle Avenue and at Canyon Park.
“It’s going OK,” Delmatoff said. “It had dropped off for a while and now it’s picking back up. We got two calls today about filming. It’s kind of dropped off industry wide, not just with us. It’s just become too expensive. And as television has gone more to reality TV, they have very small budgets. Plus, other places are offering a lot of incentives.”
Keeping up with the film industry has made Monrovia become more competitive, she said.
“We have lowered our prices,” she said. “In the past when there were great big budgets it wasn’t an issue. As budgets have gotten smaller and smaller our prices did go down, especially if someone wants to film in Old Town.”
Filming in Old Town has its benefits for production companies, Delmatoff said, as the street looks like it could be dropped in just about any small town in America.
“It can be anywhere in the U.S.,” she said. “In fact, the call I got today they wanted to be in Grosse Point, Mich. But it can be very expensive to film in Old Town. You have to make agreements with merchants you will be filming in front of.”
One local issue with filming is that some in town see it as a nuisance as opposed to a revenue generator, Delmatoff said. She added her office is trying to stay on top of the issue and keeping those in town informed about filming’s local benefits.
“Part of it is education,” she said. “People don’t realize the benefits. They think of it just as an inconvenience. There are some people who absolutely hate filming and you’re not going to change their minds. There are other people who really want it and you have those people next door to each other, so what do you do?”
But she said film crews do spend thousands of dollars in Monrovia and the surrounding areas, which is good for businesses and the local governments. And incentives should be offered to the production workers.
“In our Old Town, what we asked some of the merchants to do when there’s filming they put a little sign in their window that says, ‘film crew discounts here,'” she said. “You may have a crew of 75 people, many of whom have never heard of Monrovia, they have a lot of down time, they bring their families back. Then it’s up to the business person to take advantage of it.”
(Shel Segal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be followed via Twitter @segallanded.)