Resilience and Rebuilding Film Production in the COVID Era
Organization: Economic Development Collaborative
Location: Camarillo, CA
Openings: 1 of 1
Project Focus: Infrastructure Development, Urban Planning
Desired Skills: Research, Data Analysis, Detail Oriented
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Ventura County Film Commission (Commission) is a resource and liaison program of the Economic Development Collaborative. Film Production is a business that is light on environmental impact and high on economic impact. The film industry is for the most part low impact and high value, similar to the tourism industry inasmuch as it brings significant economic opportunity to the area through spending at local vendors, but results in little lasting negative impact. In 2019, the County experienced more than 4,000 film days resulting in a positive economic impact in excess of $76 million. Production activity benefitted more than 3,500 Ventura County trade workers and professionals part of industry guilds and unions who live locally. However, due to COVID, the first quarter of 2020 saw those film days and impact fall to zero, with little sign of significant reopening on the horizon. As such, a significant labor and economic force in the region, reopening film activity represents a foundational element of Ventura’s recovery, helping to replace the jobs lost since the onset of COVID. Bringing back film activity — through more shoots in Ventura County and increased activity in production and post-production— is a vital positive multiplier effect for the economy, creating and sustaining at least two new jobs for every job generated in local film production.
As the local economy reopens, various permitting jurisdictions and productions need help in leveraging technology and dynamic data to engage more effective and resilient ways to support a safe and resilient film industry for the County – while also demonstrating more streamlined, COVID responsive planning processes for the County. Every production in a location shoot requires the engagement of several layers of permitting for most projects. The Commission maintains relationships with all of the permitting jurisdictions and serves as a guide to help manage production’s engagement with those permitting schemes. The Commission has been facilitating the increase in film projects in Ventura County since 2013. With COVID, that increase dropped to zero and the various permitting schemes that film uses to facilitate the orderly and managed processes of production have undergone a major shuffling in response. The goal of this project is to map the next iteration of coordination and facilitation by and between production, locations, permitting and support services in the County, while maintaining health and safety standards for all involved. The Fellow will have the opportunity to be part of a deep dive into the various layers of permitting, project design and impact mitigation that are designed to fundamentally reopen opportunity and activity in the County. The Fellow will play an integral role in this effort through activities including, 1) interviews to determine current capacity, mapping standard elements of each permitting authority; 2) developing web templates for a ‘standard’ guide to permit processes, automating contact collection and streamlining film days data collection; 3) building capacity for information distribution using dynamic and web-based communications. Taken together, this project will support the re-emergence of resilient and safe film activity while setting a model for more efficient, effective planning process across the county.
The ideal Fellow will possess a strong ability to synthesize, summarize and provide compliance mapping for production and permitting systems. The Fellow will be skilled in research methods, compliance methods with rules/ordinances and public engagement, and the design and deployment of dynamic web systems. The Fellow should have good communication and interpersonal skills, as the Fellow will participate in regional efforts to ensure that the Commission’s information systems are consistent with all regional permitting schemes, as much as it is feasible. The Fellow is also anticipated to provide assistance to facilitate public workshops and prepare and revise contact and permit information links based on regulatory scheme framing and input.
ABOUT THE COMMUNITY
The culture of the EDC is one of peer to peer. The Fellow will be engaged as a peer as well as exposed to multiple levels of government and multi-agency collaboration. A private nonprofit, the EDC was founded in 1996 with funding from the County of Ventura, the 10 cities in the county and key private-sector companies to provide a pathway to business growth, economic prosperity and high quality of life for all. Today, in partnership with the Small Business Development Center, the EDC is a regional asset for economic vitality in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties, giving businesses, community partners and civic leaders the resources they need to succeed. By leveraging public and private funds, the EDC has become a key player in delivering business consulting, funding and strategic initiatives that support the regional economy. The Film Commission is one of those strategic initiatives. Ventura is unique as a film location for its ability to be anywhere. The vast opportunities for visual working landscapes that are so close to the center of production is both unique and a constantly evolving ecology. The Fellow who engages this project will come away with a working knowledge of film, permitting processes in an array of subsets of government and experience in the liaison function necessary to keep this a well facilitated process. The portfolio has no authority and so needs to manage relationships by and between all the parties.