Los Angeles airports soar with film productions that provide jobs, revenue

Film shoots at Los Angeles' airports generated $590 million in wages and other revenue for the region in recent years, according to a study released Monday that researches say highlights the importance of making airports available to filmmakers and TV producers.

Officials called for the survey by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when airports nationwide stopped granting access to film crews for security reasons.

"We were under enormous internal pressure and pressure from the film industry to bring back film activity," said Paul Haney, deputy executive director of airports and security for Los Angeles World Airports.

The study examined the economic impact from 2002, when filming resumed, to 2005 of filming at Los Angeles International Airport and three other city-owned facilities: Ontario, Van Nuys and Palmdale.

The report described the airports as an "important if unheralded contributor to the health of the motion picture industry in Southern California."

In addition to the $590 million, the report also found airport filming provided indirect benefits that resulted in 4,800 full-time jobs that produced $280 million in wages and $1 million in city tax revenue.

"This validates the importance of the efforts we put in to support the film industry," Haney said.

Television programs accounted for more than one-third of productions at the airports, while feature films account for less than 10 percent, according to the study, reports AP.

The facilities are attractive to filmmakers because of their proximity to Hollywood studios, production companies and actors, the study found.

Los Angeles airports have a 10-person film desk to coordinate productions. Scenes from Tom Hanks' "The Terminal" about a man stuck in a New York airport were filmed in a giant hangar at the Palmdale facility. The short-lived television drama "LAX" starring Heather Locklear and Blair Underwood was shot in LAX only after officials persuaded producers who had scheduled filming for Dallas.

The city's airport agency is also buying up a nearly abandoned residential neighborhood near LAX, where film crews have blown up houses and staged a helicopter crash.

Though filming at the airports still accounts for less than 1 percent of all on-location production that goes on in Los Angeles County, it can sometimes lead to film crews staying in the area for longer periods benefiting the economy and workers, researchers said.

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