Hollywood and the city of Los Angeles are mourning the passing of Tom Sherak, who died Tuesday of prostate cancer. Sherak was earning a dollar a year as the city’s Film Czar, a position Mayor Eric Garcetti had appointed him to last fall.
Sherak had risen through the ranks of Hollywood to run the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Many observers say his reputation brought new heft and enthusiasm to L.A.’s fight to keep film production from going elsewhere.
"The city’s in a good place to move forward in that Tom had done so much work on helping them to set a plan in place," said Paul Audley, who heads Film LA, the non-profit that manages on location filming permits in Los Angeles City and County.
Audley says part of Sherak’s plan was getting other California cities involved in pushing to expand the state’s Film and TV tax credit program. FilmLA has been working with film offices and city agencies in places like Sacramento, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and others to help them participate.
Kevin Klowden, director of the Milken Institute's California Center said that kind of collaboration has been missing.
"Los Angeles needs to make it clear that it’s not just doing it for the city’s benefit or even Los Angeles County, but that it is cooperating to focus on a much broader economic benefit," said Klowden, author of "Film Flight: Lost Production and Its Economic Impact in California."
Steve Dayan, president of the Teamsters Local 399 and current Chairman of the Board of the California Film Commission, agrees.
"When shows come back, they also go to other municipalities and other areas in the state. It isn’t just Los Angeles that benefits," Dayan said.
California's $100 million film and television tax credit program is about a fourth the size of New York's. Kevin Klowden of the Milken Institute said the Los Angeles film office could take a cue from New York City when Michael Bloomberg was mayor.
"New York’s done a really good job of creating a film office that liaises with the industry and makes it very clear how it operates," Klowden said, adding that Bloomberg made film production a priority. "With a new mayor in New York (Bill de Blasio) who isn’t necessarily as aligned with the film industry, Los Angeles is in a position to re-establish itself a city that is more friendly to filming and push forward that agenda."
Paul Audley of FilmLA would welcome that opportunity.
"From a selfish point of view, I hope the stories are true that the new Mayor of New York is not likely to continue to the level of support for taking filming from California," Audley said.