During today’s increasingly tough economy, California schools face tremendous financial problem due to large amount of budget cut. Many of them are now turning to Hollywood, an unlikely source, for easy money solution. Historically, California schools have been reluctant to make themselves available to Hollywood but now they are seeking to earn thousands of dollars a day from renting their campuses as location for movies, TV shows, commercials, and truck parking. School officials who permit filming say it gives them huge profit. They get paid location fees ranging from $3,100 for LA Unified to $5,500 for Torrance. LA Unified alone earned $1.5 million from July 2009 through March 2010. These money will be used to save teachers’ jobs and upgrade school facilities.
Some schools go to a considerable length to accommodate the need of Hollywood producers. At El Segundo High, Principal Jim Garza cut down the school’s palm trees so the campus would look less Southern California and fit a wider range of location. Similarly at University High in Los Angeles, floor tiles were replaced, interiors and exteriors redecorated, and landscape renewed just for the movie “Drillbit Taylor”. University High pocketed a grand total of $90,000 from the comedy.
However, allowing filming on campus is not all easy money. University High faculties and students complained in the school newspaper that the filming crew blocked access to classes, took over the parking lot, and stop them from moving around campus. At El Segundo High, neighbors around the school protested against the trucks occupying street space and loud noise from the movie set. But most importantly, it creates a distracting learning environment.
In such difficult time, partnering with Hollywood is possibly the best way for California schools to keep teachers and maintain classes. Many schools have restricted filming to only outside school hours or 20 days per year in order to solve some of the problems and continue making lucrative deal with the movie industry.