"Terriers" is our new Twentieth Century TV series, which recently finished shooting its 12 episodes, including the pilot. The show is going to air in the fall line-up for the FX Channel. I wanted to provide some insight on what it takes to get a show like this to work in San Diego.
The San Diego Film Commission has wooed Twentieth Century Fox for many years. We have attracted "American Idol"; an episode of the hit TV series "24"; three telenovelas, including "Fashion" and "Desire"; a pilot called "Point Pleasant"; as well as many reality shows.
Production is attracted to a city by three things: budget, location and infrastructure.
The budget is probably the most important issue and the Film Commission must outbid other competitors to secure the work. We sell our beautiful city by coming in with a budget-friendly offer that includes providing skilled local crew, extras, industry services and hotels near their filming destination, not to mention free locations to offset ones that are costly to the production. We are well respected for our skilled staff, which keeps production on track and out of trouble. We assist production in finding their locations and providing suggestions that match their scripts. The infrastructure includes such things as government support, hotels, community support, services and studio space.
We break down their scripts to sort out safety and liability issues and work everyday with posting for no parking companies, law enforcement and fire to ensure safety and make certain the community is well informed and represented. A Fire Department representative will determine if they need a fire truck or emergency vehicle for their stunt or pyrotechnical work, not to mention checking the licensing of the pyrotechnician. Even weapons are carefully checked.
We regulate the filming and give careful oversight so as to prevent as much risk as possible. In fact, in 34 years of representing government in permitting film production, there have been no lawsuits due the Film Commission efforts. This is pretty amazing when one considers we handle stunts, pyrotechnics, gun fire and car chases.
After securing the pilot, we worked hard to secure the series. (For example, the pilot for "Nip/Tuck" shot in San Diego but we lost the series to Los Angeles.) Mayor Jerry Sanders went to Los Angeles with us to meet with the head of Twentieth Century to assure the studio that San Diego is film friendly and our mayor wanted their business. Shortly after that trip, we got word the show was confirmed for San Diego. We were told by the studio that no other mayor has visited them, not even the mayor of Los Angeles.
Rob Dunson who is the head of production for the SDFC and was a producer for Stu Segall manages the TV series on behalf of the commission and the government. He works tirelessly all hours and weekends, not only assisting in their efforts to secure workable locations for the week ahead, but giving production day to day oversight. This includes checking posting for no parking, addressing filming concerns from the impacted community, informing government of impact to their districts and troubleshooting and problem solving 24/7.
Some of the challenges we face could include a location falling out at the mid-night hour, losing a crucial crew member, having to solve a community issue, not getting the script until a day or two before the filming and the list goes on.
The benefits are too many to list. There are over 200 local vendors working on a typical series, which we consider the infrastructure needed to secure a project. These vendors include Home Depot, Costco, nurseries, gasoline, catering, hotels, props, dry cleaners and shoe repair, to name a few. There were approximately 100 local crew people hired on this show, hundreds of extras and hundreds of hotel room nights. Millions of dollars is pumped into the local economy and thus why the SDFC is an economic development program. Ocean Beach, which is the primary location, is receiving great exposure and the local business generated by crew and talent is always welcome. A small trailer showing a terrier ripping a dog toy apart is the first sneak peek of the show on the FX Channel. Terriers, starring Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James, is a comedy-crime-drama with a pinch of an updated Simon & Simon meets Rockford Files. You've just had a behind-the-scenes look at what a show like this means to San Diego!
Anderson serves as film commissioner and CEO with the San Diego Film Commission.