While the government shutdown drags on and troubles grow for furloughed employees, businesses big and small and individuals who rely on federal services, even one small corner of the film and television industry is feeling the pinch. Where? On location.
Plans to shoot films, television shows and commercials on federal lands have been changed or put on hold. That includes one crew planning to shoot a car commercial in the Angeles National Forest.
"The auto companies use the forest a lot because of the winding roads," says Paul Audley, president of FilmLA, which coordinates permits for on-location shoots in the Los Angeles area including the Angeles National Forest. "You see them in most every auto commercial, and so they don’t have access to that right now for shooting commercials."
Audley says September was a typical month: FilmLA issued permits for 12 shoots in the forest, ten of which were commercials. The commercials shot there just before the federal shutdown include ads for Jaguar, Mercedes, and DirecTV.
"So if that trend had been continuing this month, that’s about what we’d be losing," Audley says.
The loss extends to the federal government. Audley says a permit to shoot in the Angeles National Forest can cost up to $1,000 per day, a fee that goes directly to the federal government. FilmLA and the California Film Commission let production companies know that the forest won't be available during the shutdown. Then they try to help find alternatives.
"It’s not just here in Los Angeles, it’s across California and it’s across the U.S. ," says Ed Duffy, Business Agent for the Teamsters Local 399, which represents drivers, casting directors, and location managers. "There are certain plans that have been made to film on federal land that have either been postponed or location managers and companies are struggling to find alternate locations."
"You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone," says Daniel Rossman of The Wilderness Society's California office. "When I go out with my family to the Angeles National Forest, I often see them shooting commercials for cars. Those hairpin turns you see in many commercials on TV are filmed right here in the San Gabriel Mountains."
On its blog, The Wilderness Society offers a list of famous films shot on public lands, from Gone With The Wind in the San Bernardino National Forest to The Hunger Games in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest.
"The shutdown has highlighted the loss of this great resource," Rossman says.