Filming on the rise locally

Filming permits pulled in Glendale and Burbank appear to be bucking a wider downward trend in the region as on-location shoots become more common sights in both cities.

Glendale reported an uptick in the number of film permits issued so far this year — 184 — outpacing the 175 issued over the same period last year, according to city officials.

Burbank is on track to beat the number of permits pulled last year with 370 permits issued so far, compared to 439 in all of 2011, according a city official who coordinates film permits.

The Los Angeles region, however, saw its overall on-location production slide by almost 4% this past quarter compared to the same three-month period last year, according to FilmL.A., the organization that tracks film permits in the region.

Several television shows have shot in Glendale this year, including “Criminal Minds,” “True Blood,” “The Mentalist” and “Desperate Housewives,” said Sherry Servillo, a media relations representative for the city.

“Criminal Minds” shoots fairly regularly throughout Glendale.

“They like the west side of the city,” Servillo said.

Another popular film location is the Montrose area because of its small-town feel, she added.

In fact, on Wednesday some residents may have heard explosions and gunshots coming from the Montrose area, where a show — using the stage name “Battleship” for confidentiality purposes — was filming.

City spokesman Tom Lorenz said some production companies prefer to work in Glendale because permits are processed quickly.

He recalled a commercial for Bud Light that required a simulated bank robbery in downtown and a helicopter landing on Brand Boulevard. The catch: the company wanted to film in seven days.

“Within a week, we were able to turn around all the approvals and do a big-budget Bud Light commercial,” Lorenz said.

The number of film permits may increase in Glendale next year because the former police building on the corner Wilson Avenue and Isabel Street once again is available for filming.

The structure was slated for be remodeled and used by the city’s redevelopment agency, so it was closed to film crews for about three years.

However, when local redevelopment agencies were eliminated by state lawmakers last year, the renovation project was nixed, Lorenz said.

The building is popular with TV shows and movies that require police settings because it has a jail, a detective’s office, interview rooms, a dispatch center and locker rooms.

“We want to make it one-stop shopping,” he said.

In Burbank, the TV show “Body of Proof” has filmed several times around the city this year, including at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center and the Pointe building, according to Norma Brolsma, who coordinates film permits for the city.

Other TV shows that have shot on-location scenes in Burbank include “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice,” “Parenthood” and the new comedy “Go On,” starring Matthew Perry.

Feature films that have pulled permits include the Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra,” starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, and “Robot and Frank,” starring Frank Langella.

“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” typically pulls several permits throughout the year, including for shoots in Johnny Carson Park and a regular “talking-gas-pump” segment filmed at the Costco near the Empire Center, Brolsma said.

FilmL.A. reported that film shoots for TV reality shows saw a steep decline, dropping 20.5%, while on-location work for television dramas decreased 18.5%.

Television sitcoms, which make up about 11% of overall TV production, saw an almost 48% jump for the quarter. Meanwhile, the production of TV “webisodes” surged by nearly 149%.

Follow Mark on Twitter @LAMarkKellam.

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