Not all uniformed officers on Burbank movie sets are actors
Many are Burbank Police and Fire officials, whom production
companies must hire to ensure safety at film shoots in public places.
Police officers direct traffic when a street or sidewalk is closed
for filming and manage audience control at tapings of live programs.
They also help carry out the terms of the film permit approved by
"They're friendly people who everyone gets along with very well,"
"Tonight Show" production manager Tom Patino said.
Though the NBC program rarely had police on the set prior to Sept.
11, it now has officers there every day, Patino said.
While remaining responsive to filmmakers' requests for specific
locations, the city is careful to not allow productions in the same
area too often. The policy means that no one group of residents or
businesses feels burdened, Police Sgt. Pat Lynch said.
"It's nice that our city is receptive to the filming industry,"
Lynch said. "They encourage us to try and promote it."
Fire officials are hired to oversee lighting safety on indoor
shoots and when special effects are being filmed.
"They say they want to explode this car, just this one little
car," city film permit coordinator Norma Brolsma said. "Then I refer
them to the Fire Department."
Fire personnel also maintain crowd control when hundreds of people
are gathered in a warehouse.
"If we did not have a fire safety officer on duty, the chances for
disaster or problem are a lot higher," Fire Engineer/ Inspector Kirk
The potential of injury to actors and crew members goes up when
filming stunt shots or using pyrotechnics -- anything with "a boom or
a blast or an explosion," Wishart said.
Officers cover the motion picture beat on their time off. The city
charges the production company for the officers' time, then pays the
officers' salaries, about $52 hourly, so they are still city
employees on a film shoot. Retired officers can also be hired
directly by the company.
"It's show biz, that's exciting," Wishart said. "I get as much or
more enjoyment watching the technical part of the production ...
we've nurtured a real nice relationship with them."