Oakland Film Center an incubator
By John W. Ellis IV
East Bay Business Times, (December 20, 2004)
The Oakland Film Center, not yet a year
old, is attracting permanent business residents from around
te Bay and video productions from around the nation. Oakland
established the center in May in a warehouse on the former U.S.
Army Base and filled the 100,000-square-foot space within a
month with only word-of-mouth advertising.
The center houses 22 film-related businesses
under a single roof. Transportation, communication, props, mobile
offices, lighting and camera companies all share a space. And
it has five businesses on its waiting list.
“We became aware that a number of owner-operated
film businesses were getting rent increases they couldn’t afford”,
says Ami Zins, liaison at the Oakland Film Office. “With support
of the city and the Port of Oakland, we opened a film center
that gives us a big advantage when production teams are evaluating
Benefits include low rent on the vacant
base, enterprise zone tax credits, cross-pollination of business,
and the opportunity to share experiences. The center’s location
at the foot of the Bay Bridge where interstates 80, 580 and
980 merge and near Oakland’s airport attracts local businesses
and production crews from out of town.
“Having a thing called the Oakland Film
Center has gotten a lot of attention in the industry,” Zins
says. “People are interested in one-stop shopping, but it also
has a certain cachet.”
Zins hopes to permanently draw together
small and midsize companies that are now scattered throughout
the Bay Area.
“I would like to see a facility built,
but on a much larger scale, that would be a permanent home.
My dream is that this would end up a public and private partnership,”
Zins says. “We also want to have a sound stage with editing
Zins says that an East Bay production
company with capital in hand is looking for a location to build
such a facility. Separately, an actor with his own production
company – Zins would not identify the actor – has put Oakland
on the short list of cities where he might build a production
“Because Oakland is not as well visually
identified, it is an easy city to use for filming,” Zins says.
“The movie ‘Rent’ is filming here, but it takes place in New
Oakland’s famous lack of identity may
soon change, at least on the big screen. The directors of the
“Bee Season”, a film starring Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche,
to be released in 2005, dropped Pittsburgh as the setting for
Myla Goldberg’s award-winning novel, Zins says.
After filming began, the directors were
so impressed with Oakland – many of the film center’s businesses
worked on the production – they rewrote the settings and locations
in the script to infuse Oakland’s flavor and diversity.
Still concerned that audiences might
not immediately identify, Zins says, the directors spent $25,000
to shoot a new opening sequence. The scene is an aerial shot
of the Bay Area that concludes with workers installing a 14-foot-high
“Port of Oakland” sign.
sign was dismantled after shooting.
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