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Schools have some reel competition

District is having a tougher time renting campuses for movie shoots.

July 13, 2010|By Max Zimbert, max.zimbert@latimes.com

GLENDALE — Local schools are facing increased competition to have their campuses used for Hollywood film shoots as more districts seek ways to generate revenue, officials said.

Glendale and Burbank unified school districts have been filming destinations for years because of their proximity to the studios, and the district auditoriums, athletic fields and architecture meet a range of production needs, officials said.

But that market is getting more crowded, and Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa said his district has taken notice.

"To the extent that we need to be paying attention to more players in the pool, we want to be competitive, we want to be assertive, and we want to market ourselves as a real good place to continue to do this," he said. "Because we have a track record, I think there's a few barriers already removed, which has to be a positive for us."

This week, production at Burroughs High School will generate about $18,000, Carrizosa said. School staff can be assigned maintenance or custodial work during rentals, but districts have their expenses covered, officials said.

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Faced with $17 billion in state cuts to public education the last two years, and looking at more than $2.4 billion more this year, more school districts than ever are turning to film or television production as a funding source, said Patricia Edgar, a property manager at FilmL.A., a nonprofit that organizes film and television production in the Los Angeles area.

"I am seeing more schools that hadn't maybe thought of it before are looking at it as an additional revenue stream because there's a need … that wasn't there in the past," she said. "It's a wonderful way for the schools to increase their revenue, and it can be tremendously beneficial."

Burbank Unified contracted with FilmL.A. for location scouting and coordination, and Glendale Unified is ramping up a marketing campaign, said district controller Mike Lee.

The district has posted all of its sites with the California Film Commission, and is exploring partnerships with nonprofits that can attract and coordinate production rentals, Lee said.

"From that, we've generated some interest from the industry," he said. "Now that we are going to be a bit more proactive in marketing our facilities, we're hoping it's going to generate interest … and establish maybe a long-term, ongoing working relationship with the studios."

Filming at Rosemont Middle School this month generated $3,000 for Glendale Unified, Lee said.

Rental rates will increase, and new numbers are expected to be approved by Glendale school board members this month, after putting off a vote in June on a proposal that would have doubled most rates.

Board members said they worried too many companies could not afford the rate hikes.

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