Film Permits & Home Occupations comments

Dear Burbank City Council,

Thank you for your reconsideration of the latest set of revisions to our Film Permit Ordinance. A few final comments:

I’m glad to see Tripods are back as a permitted use and to see the added definition of “camera stabilization equipment”. Last meeting I asked a specific question about the use of stabilizers such as Steadicams, Varizooms, Glidecams etc., and Staff clearly stated that they we’re allowed as they’re attached to the body, held in the hand and carried by the videographer. That said, there still appears to be some confusion in the community on this and I think it would behoove Staff to clearly re-state this for the record tonight.

I am disappointed that we still don’t have a reasonable and safe allowance for low-watt lighting such as a 1000W permit-free lighting cap; I know several people submitted comments in support of this idea but there was no such mention in Staff’s report. It appeared a few Council members were willing to consider it last meeting but were talked out of it by Staff who said something to the effect of “it’s not the wattage but how it’s used”. Well you can say that about anything right…cutlery, power tools, vehicles etc. I would ask that a poll be taken prior to your final vote to see if there is support (3 votes) to add this exemption.

I still have major concerns re the definition of “Commercial Use” to include “Advertising on YouTube”. This is going to hurt small businesses who use the web for viral marketing, realtors who advertise properties via virtual tours etc., and should be removed. Previously we made no distinction between personal vs. commercial use, as the end-use has no bearing on public safety. To require our local small businesses to pay $350 to produce short videos that advertise their products & services in this economic climate seems counter-productive to previous stated Council goals re economic development. I’m glad we will be considering a reduced 1-Day Film Permit for 2010/11, but I made that request with ample time for consideration during this budget cycle and fear that whatever reduction is made for 2010/11 may be too little too late.

Finally, a few recent events have come to my attention that concern me. I’ve just learned of a situation where an out-of-town Film Director was told he needed a permit and Police & Fire staff on site to film a small scene in a house for his reel. Now I have no idea of how many people or how much equipment was going to be used but on the surface this seems unreasonable to me. I also read in the Burbank Leader of a BPD raid on a local film maker shooting a scene in a friends front yard that lead to a $700 citation. Then there’s the prosecution of Kevin Muldoon, an unemployed local car enthusiast prosecuted for filming a car show at Bob’s Big Boy without a permit. These incidents coupled with the City’s failure to grasp the pertinent issues & technology have caused irrevocable harm to our image and reputation as the “media capital of the world”. Considering the current economic crisis and rampant runaway production, you are not helping but hurting local media production companies that are the lifeblood of this City. I have also learned of a potential conflict-of-interest re Police & Fire Dept. personnel involved in the drafting of the ordinance who benefit financially from working on local film shoots, and find that very disconcerting.

One more thing re the Home Occupation Ordinance Staff Report; All I asked is you consider making a small allowance for low volume client visits i.e. A handful of people each week and Staff comes up with this? Think about it; one of the primary goals of the HOO is to encourage less vehicular traffic by allowing folks to work from home. So if someone works from home and does not make 2 peak-hour trips each day but has 2-3 clients visits per week which are off-peak who park on their premises, isn’t that a net reduction? How can Staff claim such a person is creating additional vehicular traffic? Let’s say I have a few people come over to play cards, or watch the game, or do a bible study or sit-in while I edit a video for them…what’s the difference? A lot of people who film now edit themselves and are also impacted by these inflexible rules & regulations but this HOO effects more than just film makers, it effects musicians/composers with home studios, graphic/web designers, people who do bookkeeping/taxes etc. The HOO is over 10 years old and can be improved by making a few simple changes that don’t require a task force or a lot of Staff time IMO. Please use your common sense when considering this item.

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