It’s not exactly an extension of Hollywood, but the village of Riverside in recent years has become a frequent backdrop for feature films, TV shows, commercials and product marketing photos.
With the rising demand, the village has decided to increase fees it charges production companies to make Riverside a soundstage. On Dec. 19 village trustees voted unanimously to approve the fee hikes plus language in the law that ensures residents in areas where filming and photography take place are adequately notified of any inconveniences.
“My number one concern is to recoup all of our costs, so we don’t lose any money on these,” said Village Manager Peter Scalera. “We also didn’t feel that the application properly ensured notification of what would take place.”
In 2013, Riverside hosted crews and cast members from the TV show Betrayal on two separate occasions. Each time, the production set up shop on streets in Riverside and police had to block traffic and prohibit parking at certain times to accommodate the filming.
A year earlier, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi and Chevrolet teamed up for a commercial shoot in downtown Riverside. And in 2005, Riverside was used as a location for the Sandra Bullock-Keanu Reeves film, The Lake House.
But there have been other, less well-known companies that have come in to take advantage of Riverside’s scenic charm. Last summer, for example, a fitness company closed off part of the Swan Pond Park path for some photography using the river as a background.
It’s not cheap. ABC-TV paid Riverside about $25,000 for the days it spent in the village this year.
But judging from the new fee schedule, Riverside felt it was seriously under-charging for the honor of being on film.
According to the amended law passed on Dec. 19, the fee the village charges for processing the application for any film or photography activity that requires the use of public areas, buildings, equipment or employees will be $500 instead of the $150 charged previously.
In addition, companies will be charged on a higher per-hour basis for any personnel whose services are required. In the past, the village charged $40 per hour for any public employee whose time was spent directly on the activity.
Now those hourly rates will vary, depending on whose services are required. If it’s the village manager, it’ll cost the company $350 per hour. A police officer or firefighter will cost between $160 and $240 an hour, depending on the rank of that officer. Public works employees will run from $140 to $190 an hour. You need a light truck? That’ll be $60 an hour.
On top of that, companies wanting to disrupt the use of public property will be paying more to do so. “Disruptive use” of a public building now will cost you $825 per day instead of the $500 it cost in the past. If you need a public street or park area closed off, that’ll cost $80 per hour.
The village also increased the amount it’s requiring as a surety bond, a deposit made by the company to pay for any damage incurred during the shoot, from $1,000 to $15,000.
A new section of the law requires any applicant to notify any property owners in the vicinity of the filming, along with a written description of what’s going to take place and for how long.
The applicants are then required to provide proof to the village that residents were notified and to report to the village the residents’ reaction to the information prior to the village approving the application.
In addition, the applicants must meet with village staff “at least 48 hours in advance of the desired production date.”
The new fees, according to Scalera, “will put us on par with other municipalities” that have become favorites of location scouts in the TV and film industry.