The entertainment industry touches the lives of everyone living in the Greater Los Angeles Region. Many of us work in the industry ourselves, or are close to one or more people who do. Others of us — who may not consider ourselves to be “in the business” — nonetheless work for companies that the industry financially supports. For many Angelenos, the economic, civic and cultural benefits of having films, television shows and commercials made in town is clear. For the others — well, that’s what Film Works is for!
Sometimes, when we’re out talking about the benefits of local film production, we’ll run into someone with specific questions about what filming brings to them or their community. It’s a reasonable question, and one that deserves an honest answer. Fortunately, many organizations are stepping forward to help Film Works make the case, and one place where the word is getting around is the unincorporated L.A. County community of Altadena.
Veteran location manager, actor and Altadena resident Russ Fega, whose credits include Memento (2000), I Am Sam (2001) and The Big Empty (2003), recently set up a nonprofit to help make film productions’ community generosity more visible. Altadena Community Chest expands Fega’s efforts to help more homeowners attract production through his location service, Home Shoot Home:
Home Shoot Home came into existence because after years as a location manager, I found myself fielding the same question over and over again. “How can I get my home used for a movie, a commercial or a TV show?” Often, I referred homeowners to the various location services that I’d used. However, after living in Altadena, and getting to know many people here and in neighboring Pasadena and South Pasadena, I decided to create something of my own. Something unique.
Altadena Community Chest was founded when Fega learned that some of his neighbors in Altadena felt that they did not benefit from filming personally. The organization’s stated goal is to make sure the benefits of hosting film production flow to “a broad spectrum of [Altadena] interests”, rather than just those residents or businesses that choose to rent their locations to film companies. To that end, the organization takes in donations from film production companies, aggregates them, and gifts larger sums to respected Altadena-based institutions.
Productions can choose to earmark where they want their donations to go, or leave that to the nonprofit’s discretion. And, although donations are not required to film in Altadena, many productions choose to donate willingly. And, it’s not just the productions who donate. “Sometimes homeowners contribute when they have shoots at their homes,” Fega adds. Over time, the contributions can really add up.
In a little more than one year, Fega’s nonprofit has taken in more than 15 donations amounting to roughly $10,000. One of the charity’s largest donors, the show Criminal Minds, has donated on four separate occasions. Past recipients of the donated money include Altadena Elementary School, Altadena Library Foundation and Altadena Heritage.
“After each $500 donation we make to a cause or group, we send out a community newsletter so everyone can read about the benefit,” said Fega.
Suddenly, the benefits of filming in Altadena seem just a little more apparent.
Film Works sends its thanks to all supporters helping us celebrate L.A.’s signature industry.