Malibu film friendly area–until PCH closes

Beaches, bluffs, canyons, and beautiful estates make Malibu a prime filming location.

Malibu has been the backdrop to many TV shows and movies such as “Baywatch,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Terminator 2,” “Lethal Weapon 4,” just to name a few.

Although generally the locals are tolerant of filming in Malibu, that tolerance ends when it impacts the city’s only lifeline–the Pacific Coast Highway.

Recently a film production took place on PCH and closed down traffic lanes during rush hour. Traffic quickly backed up for miles in a massive traffic jam.

Dr. Joe Fuscillo, a cardiologist who has lived in Malibu since 1979, experienced the dilemma first-hand in May.

“I, like others, commuted for hours and when I got to the area of obstruction and found out that they were filming, everyone was outraged,” said Fuscillo.

“They can film anywhere around the Pacific Coast, but under no circumstances should that highway be closed for filming.”

However, he added that this was the first time such a problem happened in the 20 years he has lived in Malibu.

PCH is never entirely closed because of filming, said Malibu City Manager Harry Peacock. The permit rules state that production companies are required to use an on-duty county Sheriff for any interim traffic control (ITC) during filming.

ITC on roadways is limited to three minutes maximum with no exceptions.

On occasion, the California Film Commission/CalTrans allows filming or parking on PCH

“They do their best to comply with the lane closure policies of the city,” said Peacock.

The last problem occurred on a video shoot in May where the lane closure for parking backed up traffic.

To help alleviate problems in the future, Peacock said, “We have coordinated with CALTRANS and the Sheriff’s Department to make certain this does not happen again.

“The city will no longer sign off on a permit until it has seen the permit issued by CALTRANS and made certain the policy of the city is being followed.”

In the case in May the regular CALTRANS employee who handles the permits and coordinates with the city was on vacation and the replacement did not follow established CALTRANS procedure.

“The city has received a letter of apology from the district director of CALTRANS for this error and his assurance it will be handled properly in the future,” said Peacock.

The City of Malibu issues an average of 500 filming permits per year, said Peacock.

According to Malibu resident David Katz, 29, a film actor, director and writer, as well as founder of the Malibu Film foundation, “The City of Malibu has a very well-oiled permit process.

“As long as you have proper information, the process is well-defined and easy,” said Katz.

Chris Wallace works for two production companies, which recently filmed in Malibu.

The two companies, Anomaly Productions and Greg Aronowitz and Associates, came together to film, “Off Side.”

“The permit wasn’t especially difficult to get,” said Wallace, adding that Malibu is part of the Los Angeles County permit zone.

Kim Collins-Nilsson handles all film permit applications for the City of Malibu. She has been the film permit coordinator for June 1.

However, Malibu city business is not new to Collins-Nilsson because she has worked as the Public Works Project manager for the city in the past.

According to Peacock, production companies must contact the California Film Commission, which in turn contacts CALTRANS and the city to obtain a permit. This process is set out in state regulations and any city that issues film permits (and not all do) are asked to follow the same guidelines.

The state wishes to be known as being friendly to the film business and to make it easy to film in California, he said.

The Malibu Municipal Code requires a permit for the use of any public right-of-way or any public or private property, facility or residence for the purpose of producing, taking or making any commercial motion picture, television or photographic production.

The city requires all productions to provide advance notice for all filming activities. A permit requiring traffic control, special effects, pyrotechnics or precision driving must be submitted two business days in advance for review and approval.

Production undertaken by non-profit organizations, educational or public service television, or student films requires an approved permit for which the fees shall be waived. No fees are required of news crews or non-commercial still photographers.

All sheriff and city services are paid for by the company that secures the permits; none is paid by the taxpayers of Malibu.

Peacock said that June 2000 was a typical month for Malibu, 52 permits were issued in all: 27 for still shoots, seven for videos, six for TV, one Public Service Announcement; six features, three commercials, and two student productions.

Malibu is not normally a location where an entire film is shot.

“We are typically a one-or two- day location,” said Peacock.

The most recent “big” project was the construction of a set on Westward Beach for the film “Pearl Harbor,” which took about three months to build and shoot the scenes, he said.

Westward Beach, in front of the Whale Watch Restaurant, is under the jurisdiction of the county of Los Angeles and therefore permitted by the Los Angeles County Film Office.

Filming is usually permitted from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. as set forth in the policies, and a production company’s security arrangements are their own responsibility.

Malibu residents can rent their house for a shoot for 14 days without signature approval of the neighbors as defined in the policies.

To warn neighbors of potential disruptions, all permittees are required to distribute the City of Malibu Filming Notification sheet to all residents within 500 feet of the filming locations at least 24 hours prior to the first day of filming.

Residential notification is not required for still shoots with cast and crew of less than 10 people.

According to the City of Malibu, when special effects or helicopters are used, the permittee should generally obtain written consensus from neighbors within a radius of 500 feet of the filming activity and must notify neighbors within 1000 feet of the filming activity.

Generally, the more signatures obtained, the greater the neighborhood consensus and the greater the likelihood of permit approval by city staff. The same is true for after-hours filming.

When helicopters are used in residential neighborhoods the flight-path shall be over vacant property. The flight plan shall be on file with the city.

The city does not regulate the content of a shoot under a permit.

However, Peacock said that he does not personally know of any pornographic shoots that have taken place in Malibu. Any damage incurred during a shoot would be the responsibility of the production company.

City of Malibu

Permit fees, charges and deposits:

Motion Fee

Motion Application $600

Minor Revisions (Riders) $100

Beach Application $ 250

Cancellation Fee $ 200

Administrative Reimbursement and Property Use Fee:

City property or right of way (filming) $ 400/day

City property or right of way parking

Up to 60 vehicle spaces (@24′ each) $ 200/day

60 or more vehicle spaces (@ 24′ each) $ 400/day

City park fees: $35

processing fee

Park use fee $1,200-$1,800/day

Performance bond $ 500

Monitoring required $20/hour

Still fees:

Still Application $100

Minor Revisions (Riders) $50

Beach Application $ 100

Park Fee $62/hour

Cancellation Fee $50

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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