ADG Perspective

May-June 2017

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Page 6 of 75

P E R S P E C T I V E | M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 7 5 editorial THE PERIPATETIC ART DEPARTMENT (a $12 word) by Michael Baugh, Editor I have spoken several times on this page about the diaspora of motion picture production from Hollywood to a wide range of new filmmaking centers, both in the United States and abroad, often in search of tax credits but also to make films on locations that simply look different from those we are used to seeing. This exodus has created a flood of new jobs for our Guild members that live and work elsewhere in the country, at the expense of jobs in Southern California. The situation is neither good nor bad. It is just the new reality, and a reality that will likely be with us well into the future. I am reminded of this change most vividly each year at Awards time when so many films—and even television shows—are made in distant production hubs. Of the fifteen feature films nominated for ADG Awards this year, only three were produced in Hollywood. Three were shot in the UK, two in Atlanta, two in Australia, and one each in Pittsburgh, Vancouver, New Mexico, Boston, Paris and Calcutta. The raw numbers, however, don't tell the whole story. The larger films are the least likely to shoot in Hollywood. FilmLA tallied the 119 largest films of 2015. California production amounted to $720 million on nineteen of those projects, the United Kingdom generated $1.63 billion from fifteen of them. Georgia and Louisiana tied for third with a dozen movies each, followed by Canada with eleven projects and New York with seven of these very large productions. Things are not much different in television drama. Of the fifteen series and television movies with ADG nominations this year, only three were produced in Southern California, four in the United Kingdom, two in New Mexico, two in New York, and one each in Atlanta, Florida, Vancouver and Baltimore. Again, the largest productions (think Game of Thrones) are unlikely to select Hollywood. This year's Oscar ® nominees were a surprising hiccup in the trend, because two of the five nominees were shot in Los Angeles. Last year, none were. Nor were there any the year before. You have to go back to 2013 to find a single film Oscar-nominated for Production Design that was shot locally. The two films made in Hollywood last year (La La Land and Hail, Caesar!) have screenplays located there. If the stories were more generic, it's unlikely either would have selected Hollywood—but the work was welcome nonetheless. Obviously, tax credits and other incentives are part of the reason for this change, but they are not the entire story. Advances in affordable filmmaking equipment, and expansion of opportunities to acquire investment capital from outside the film industry itself, have allowed independent film production to thrive. With more than a hundred national production entities—including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and others—and many times more niche channels, filmmakers are searching for ways to make their product stand out. Visually unique locations are one solution. Art Department craftspersons will evolve, as they have throughout the industry's history, to work with these changes. Read about the peripatetic Art Departments for Logan (page 40) and Star (page 54) in this issue to see Art Directors Guild artists traveling, finding the unique strengths of New Mexico, Louisiana and Atlanta, and creating exciting new entertainment environments. They deserve the $12 word.

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