LOS ANGELES — Filming bans at four city-owned airports since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are causing entertainment industry job losses that some in Hollywood fear could lead to more runaway production.
Citing security concerns, Los Angeles World Airports banned television and movie filming at Los Angeles, Van Nuys, Ontario and Palmdale airports shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The policy was reinforced in a Nov. 5 memorandum.
“Effective immediately, no commercial photography or commercial movie/filming related activities of any nature will be permitted within the airfield operations area at any LAWA facility,” executive director Lydia Kennard wrote airport managers.
The ban is in effect indefinitely.
“It certainly has negative effects,” said Cody Cluff, president of the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., which promotes film production in Los Angeles. “In particular, LAX has been one of the most heavily filmed airports in the world.
“They’ve always been very receptive and open to filming. The loss of it as a location cuts out one of our most frequently filmed facilities.”
The San Fernando Valley’s airport in Van Nuys has also been a popular Hollywood location for filmmakers. Last year, 40 filming permits were issued for Van Nuys Airport and generated $182,266 in airport revenues. Through September of this year, LAX issued 144 permits for revenue of $267,995.
The revenue covers the cost of providing airport staff and security, however, because it is the city’s policy not to earn a profit on movie permits at the airport.
Helicopter pilot Rick Shuster and his crew, who have worked on such films as “Independence Day” and “Jurassic Park 3,” said the filming ban cost him a job in early December that would have netted $36,000.
“This impacts everyone from the security guards on the set to the caterers,” Shuster said.
“We just hope it’s going to be a short, temporary measure,” said Barbara Cesar, owner of the firm EPS at Van Nuys Airport that has rented its hangar for use in movies such as “True Lies” and “Air Force One.”
There is also concern productions will flee California.
“It might indeed make some people think about filming in (other) locations if you need a large airport,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “Certainly the people in Denver or Phoenix would be very happy to see a film crew coming.”
There are several reasons for the airport filming ban. LAWA spokeswoman Nancy Castles said the airport staff is stretched thin with additional security concerns and cannot provide the technical help and escorts around airport property that are required for film crews. There are also tighter restrictions on airport access by non-employees.
“Los Angeles World Airports is aware of its role in the commercial film industry, in terms of providing aviation facilities,” Castles said. “However, we hope that the commercial film industry understands that our priority is the safety and security of passengers and employees at our four airports. Our primary goal is to operate a safe and secure airport.”