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A Strong View: Stop runaway production

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If you are at all familiar with the motion picture industry no doubt you know about runaway production. Entertainment is big business here in Southern California and especially in Burbank. The major and independent studios probably do their best to employ locally. Yet, here in a time of economic deficiencies in the job market; the powers that be, whoever they may be, in charge of permits and rules governing what can be done where — are running productions out of town.

Many studios, because of the high expense incurred trying to keep their doors open, are suffering under these rules. They end up having to outsource their payroll and some other departments to faraway places such as India or Canada. There is something wrong when an employee is not able to communicate with departments directly on the lot, but has to call a 800 number to correct an issue with their paycheck.

This happened to me several years ago with some tax payroll forms. I spent many years working in that industry. It’s a great place to work, but the outsourcing made some things very difficult and took away too many local jobs.

Photo: Janet Strong, North Screenland Drive resident, at a city council meeting in Burbank March 8, 2011

Photo: Janet Strong, North Screenland Drive resident, at a city council meeting in Burbank March 8, 2011

And worse, the entertainment industry is and has for a long time been loosing the ability to shoot features , locally. Companies are taking these productions out of town or state because there are so many costly restrictions to operate. California has a wealth of locations, yet frequently, they are too costly for companies to shoot there. Companies have to house and feed an entire crew when on location.

It would be nice if someone in power would make some long overdue changes in this system. Bring back those runaway millions to California and Burbank. The job market would get a boost and so would many entertainment-related businesses. This industry is vital to us all.

While I’m on the subject of the entertainment industry, one  of the areas of interest to me has always been the unfair distribution of payments to the actors and producers. While I completely understand they have a lot of responsibility and are high profile, that should in no way takes away from the importance of the crew and craft services like makeup & hair, costumes, cinematography, stunt artists.. etc.

Some of that $20 million or $50 million  that goes to the producers and the headlining actor or actress, could go a long way to putting more money into the pockets of those who make the entire project work, including those in pre-production and post-production. Just  my opinion.

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Janet Strong is a retired motion picture costume artist, long time Burbank resident, and concerned citizen.

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