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Lights, Camera, Commerce: The Impact of Film Locations on Local Economies

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By Miri Rossitto

Photo Credit Apartments.com

Behind every iconic movie or television show lies a carefully selected filming location. These seemingly ordinary places often hold the key to unexpected economic prosperity. 

When iconic filmmaker Cecil B. Demille chose the San Fernando Valley as the location to shoot his Western, “The Squaw Man,” in 1913, his decision inadvertently tied the film industry to the Valley, making it a major employer in the area as well as ensuring its indelible footprint even more than a century later. It has served and continues to serve as a backdrop for a bevy of film locations. The South Seas Apartment in Reseda will forever be associated as Daniel LaRusso’s home in the original Karate Kid, and the same goes for the “Matadome” at CSUN, as the site of his triumph against archnemesis Johnny Lawrence. The famous bicycle scene in E.T. was filmed on the tree-lined stretch of White Oak Ave in Granada Hills. In La Bamba, the scene where Richie Valens meets Donna is filmed at San Fernando High School. The list goes on and on.

Filming locations hold the key to unexpected economic prosperity. The lucrative potential of hosting film and television productions proves invaluable to local businesses, not to mention the long-term bragging rights for the neighborhood and the community. Perhaps the most immediate and tangible benefit is the subsequent tourism boom post-production. After movies and TV shows become popular, fans often embark on pilgrimages to visit places that served as the backdrop for their favorite scenes. The uptick in tourism translates to increased revenue for local businesses from hotels to restaurants, and local shops. Sustained interest over time can transform a neighborhood into a thriving tourist destination.

That’s not all. When a film crew sets up shop in a particular location, it is not just the actors and the directors who benefit. The local economy receives a significant boost. From hiring local talent and support staff to sourcing materials and services locally, film and television productions become economic engines, creating temporary jobs during filming. The ripple effect on various industries contributes to a cycle of local economic growth. It also opens new business opportunities in the host community. Local businesses may find a niche in providing services or products specifically tailored to the film industry like catering, equipment rental, or location scouting services. Entrepreneurs can capitalize on the unique needs of film crews, turning the filming location into a hub for specialized businesses.

One such business is Scope Locations, a premier locations agency founded by local entrepreneur and experienced industry professional, Shirley Scopelitis. Scope Locations will be launching a new cutting-edge website (Scopelocations.org) with advanced technology to facilitate how location professionals discover and select filming locations. The key features of the new website will include user-friendly interface, advanced search capabilities, and time-saving tools.

“What truly sets our location agency apart is our commitment to understanding our clients on a more personal level. We are deeply dedicated to ensuring the needs of both our property owners/businesses and our productions are met through our unwavering commitment and hard work. Our objective is to facilitate collaborations that enable all involved parties to attain their desired goals,” shares Scopelitis. The website is slated to launch this month.

In the world of filmmaking and television production, locations are more than just backdrops; they are economic powerhouses and can fuel a local economy. The lucrative potential of filming locations extends far beyond the duration of a shoot, leaving a lasting impact on the local economy, culture, and community. The symbiotic relationship between the entertainment industry and local economies turns ordinary places into extraordinary assets.

Miri Rossitto is CEO of Cowe Communcations. Follow them on all social at @CoweOfficial.


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