Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #274: No Security For Security...

Okay, Los Angeles has a big problem.

Gone are the days when it was cheaper and more efficient to just shoot movies in and around the greater Los Angeles area. It's spent as a location, (
I mean how many times can you have a chase in that canal-reservoir thing?) the state is broke, taxes are high, general costs are high, regulations are adding to these costs, and with the fires, floods, and plague outbreaks, it's like living in the Old Testament.

It's no wonder that productions are fleeing the one-time movie capital, for greener pastures where costs are lower, the brush-fires far away, and the tax breaks are generous.

And now the Chief of the LAPD wants to give runaway productions another reason to flee, and to piss off legions of retired LAPD officers.

You see, for years, decades really, retired police officers would get hired to work security on film shoots, either on location, or in and around the studios. Usually these retired cops would earn around $49/hour for the first 8 hours, with overtime, and benefits. That's a pretty good deal for these cops to supplement their pensions, and allow them to be able to afford to still live in the overpriced LA area.

Well, because of some budget shortfalls by the city, the Chief now wants the studios to hire off duty active (non-retired) cops for around $69/hour, as well as a 14% fee to the city for the privilege of hiring these cops, and increases in permit fees.

Now how do they think this will affect local productions?

They're going to leave, that's what, there are lots of places now where costs are lower, and that's even without tax breaks, and new technology means that they are not bound by the limits of Southern California's mild weather. It's the first rule of economics, money follows opportunity, deny opportunity, and the money will leave.

And let's not forget the problems this new program can cause.

Los Angeles has probably the lowest per capita relationship between police manpower, population, and square mileage. The force is already stretched too thin for a city of that size, and that means studio security won't have the same priority as stopping gang violence. It will also set up unhealthy competition between active officers looking to land fewer and fewer positions at film shoots, to make up for the loss in overtime pay caused by the city's shoddy fiscal management.

And let's not forget the retirees. Many of them need this income to maintain their health insurance, and being fired by government fiat is a rather harsh blow to men and women who dedicated most of their lives to protecting the city.

Which I guess brings me to the main lesson behind this post. The reason LA keeps losing business, is because they just can't accept the fact that when something isn't broke, you don't fix it.

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