In 2012, after 4 years of raising funds, Sidecar Productions set out to shoot their first feature, Eternity: The Movie. Unfortunately, earlier that year, funding had been cut to the San Diego Film Commission and the remaining staff was moved into the Tourism Authority Board. Later that year the office officially folded and the four years of prepping to shoot in San Diego came to a head.
“We had no idea how crucial a central film office was to making a film until we tried to make Eternity without the San Diego Film Commission.” said Eternity’s producer Eric Staley.
“A Film Commission facilitates all film productions in a given area. It helps communicate between the police, the city, event staff and mass transit. It assists in coordinating locations and proper documentation for rights, permits and public safety. Without a film commission you could have very large groups of people executing their projects with out concern for the surrounding area. No paper trail to cease productions that damage parks waterways or city streets and no governing board over productions filming with unsafe practices or against union guidelines.” added the local producer.
Staley went on to point out an even bigger issue, “Without a local film office there is no liaison bringing in larger productions from outside San Diego. This liaison helps productions work comfortably in our area bringing million-dollar budgets and hundreds of jobs to the city.”
Sidecar and their team spend a full year after filming to assemble footage, tracking down colorists, renting studio space to record the final soundtrack and finding professional post-houses to complete the film. ”Most of this could have easily been accomplished with a film commission.” explained the film’s director, Ian Thorpe.
“With a film commission comes a large network experienced in creating and finishing films. When we wrote Eternity we had our network of grips, directors of photography, colorists, and composers but sadly, without a county-wide film commission, these professionals have started to leave the area,” said the director.
Against all odds Eternity: The Movie opened in theaters across the U.S. and Canada in 9 cites in October of 2014. ”It was a great experience filming in San Diego” said writer Joey Abi-Loutfi. ”Great weather, beautiful people, and no traffic” boasted the LA native. ”To have this playground only 70 miles from some of the largest blockbusters and to not utilize it would be a shame.”
Actor Jon Gries, of Napoleon Dynamite, answers his phone in his penthouse office. (Department of Transportation old building