Friday, December 28, 2012

FLIPSFilm now a part of Producers Guild Green Production Guide

FLIPSFilm is proud to be a part of the Producer's Guild Green Production Guide. Our online film permitting/approval coordination tool not only streamlines the application and approval process, (while reducing "unforced errors" that result in expensive production delays), we also help the environment by reducing physical trips to obtain permits, reduce paper and other impacts.

Thanks, Producers Guild, for enabling this valuable resource!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In case the world does NOT end Friday...

There's a lot of buzz about the world ending Friday according to the  Mayan calendar.  I guess we will have to wait to see if that really happens, but just in case here are a few things I plan to do before Friday:

1) Hug my wife; pet the cats
2) Hot fudge sundae
3) Walk down the basement stairs, look at the basement to be cleaned up, walk back upstairs
4) Wear my favorite slippers
5) Not shave
6) Feed the birds
7) Tell a stranger something nice about them
8) Mail remaining Christmas cards (just in case)
9) Not wrap Christmas presents - we still have time Saturday/Sunday
10) Resist the urge to buy stuff on credit cards
11) Try to go fishing
12) Watch Gunsmoke with my wife while eating Christmas cookies
13) Take a long hot shower. Use up the hot water (yes, the wife gets the shower first!).  Use new soap.
14) Draw something using ink, not a pencil (who cares if I have to erase it?)
15) Put on the "out of office" greeting for voicemail/email (wait, that wouldn't be neccesary, would it?)

Although the end of the world may not happen, it might be a good reminder for us to look at each day with a new perspective, wouldn't it?

Now I need to go look and see if we have some Tums for Friday morning...

Happy Thursday!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Film Permitting Survey by Independent Filmmakers

 These are the results of the November, 2012 survey of independent filmmakers about their film permitting/approval experiences with state and local governments.

Summary of Responses
- Interaction with government agencies is often manual or requires physical visits
- Many times, multiple community departments must be identified and contacted to obtain approvals, requiring multiple attempts to obtain the information
- About half the time, the application process went well and was complete; half the time, it was not 
- Permitting/Approvals typically take 3-7 days to secure approvals
- There is a high interest in improving the current process of information gathering, applying for filming, knowing policies and who to contact,  and having better feedback about the application during evaluation by the community
- All the respondents said they would use an automated approach to film permitting/approvals if it was available
- All the respondents said ease of working with the community is an important factor in selecting communities in which to film

Seems like the pattern is clear to communities:  There's a lot of good going on but room for improvement to attract filmmaking to the communities!

 Survey of Independent Filmmakers, November, 2012

1. What methods do you currently use to coordinate film permitting/approval requests in local communities?
         Responses                                                                                                              Percent                   
        A) Phone call to designated community film coordinator or film commission contact       0.0% 
        B) Physical visit to community government departments to obtain permits/approvals     50.0%  
        C) Emails to community film contacts                                                                            0.0% 
        D) Use of community websites to collect film applications                                              0.0%   
        E) Other (please provide details)                                                                                 50.0%   

2. When you contact the community film contact for information or applying for permits/approvals, how often is that request successful?                                                               
        Responses                                                                                                              Percent
        A) Most often, FIRST contact attempt provides the information I need                         50.0% 
        B) MANY times, I have to make multiple attempts to get the information I need             0.0%  
        C) MOST times, I have to make multiple attempts to get the information I need            50.0%   

3. How do you obtain approvals from multiple community departments (health, law enforcement, fire, public works, parks/recreation, federal agencies, etc.) to coordinate filming approvals or permits?  
        Responses                                                                                                            Percent               
        A) Community Film Coordinator collects all department approvals for us most of the time  0.0%

        B) Community Film Coordinator provides SOME approval assistance; we have to identify
        and contact other departments ourselves to identify and obtain approvals                         0.0%  
        C) Most times, I have to identify and contact multiple departments ourselves                   100.0% 

4. How often is your initial permitting/approval process with local governments accurate, complete, convenient and free from production-affecting issues?
       Responses                                                                                                    Percent
A)  25% of the time, our applications/experiences were accurate, complete,
                convenient and production went well                                                         0.0% 
B) 50% of the time, our applications/approval experiences were accurate,
                complete, convenient and production went well                                       50.0% 
C)   75% of the time, our applications/approval experiences were accurate, complete,
convenient and production went well                                                             0.0% 
            D) 100% of the time, our applications/approval experiences were accurate, complete,                                           convenient and production went well                                         50.0%   

 5. What is the average permitting approval time (average) for film/TV/Video productions (simple to moderate production – no pyrotechnics, stunts, etc.)?
        Responses                                                                                                             Percent               
        A) 1-3 days                                                                                                              0.0%  
        B) 3-7 days                                                                                                          100.0% 

        C) 7-14 days                                                                                                            0.0%  
        D) More than 14 days                                                                                               0.0%     

6. What would you like to see changed in the film approval/permitting process for communities where you film? (check all that apply)
        Responses                                                                                                           Percent               
A)  Improved access to community filming policies so I can understand
                        what is required for the community's approval                                           50.0% 
            B) Better, easier access to filming policies to plan the application and filming          50.0% 
C) Faster approval processes                                                                               50.0% 
D) Understanding of estimated fees to film in the community                                100.0%  

E) Better way to identify other departments who need to approve filming requests 50.0% 
F) Better navigation between communities                                                            50.0% 
G) Understand status of the filming application during evaluation by community
                (confirm it was accepted, questions from community,
                status of approval/disapproval, etc.)                                                    50.0%

8. If there were film approval/permitting tools (such as web based systems) that didn’t require a lot of effort on your part would you consider using them as part of your film approval/permitting requests to local communities?
        Responses                                                                                                           Percent
        A) Yes                                                                                                                     100.0% 

        B) No                                                                                                                        0.0% 
        C) Maybe                                                                                                                  0.0%     

9. Does the ability to successfully/easily obtain filming approvals/permits affect your decision about which communities will be used for your filming? (Assume all other factors are equal between the communities in consideration and there are no special community features needed for the scene)
        Responses                                                                                                         Percent               
        A) Yes, ease of doing business affects the decision to select a community                100.0%
        B) No, we select communities based only on other factors more important than ease of                                                 permitting/approvals                                                          0.0%     

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Welcome! Then "SLAP!"

This week I got "slapped" by two companies.

Both eagerly want new businesses, especially emerging small companies. They offer good free trials and good product, based on my research.  So I signed up and began the implementation process.

I got partially complete with the implementation but had other priorities to focus upon, too.

Then came the SLAP! emails...

One said I was approaching the limits of capacity of the free trial and my account would be cancelled if I reached the capacity of the plan (HUH?).  But I could re- sign up for another free account with fewer capacity count or pay some "overage" fee, or upgrade to a higher capacity paid plan.

The other sent said my "trial subscription would end soon".

Except I had paid for a year's service, not a free trial.

I was furious, especially since this company is a "customer care" system!

Presumably,both companies want new customers. They offer free/inexpensive plans to build future business and ingrain themselves into my business practices.

Great concept. Customer acquisition costs are low and marketing's goals of  identifying, attracting, informing and attracting new customers worked.  A marketer's dream come true.

Then they blow it all with one poorly worded email.  It changes the new customer experience from happy and looking to validate my decision to a "SLAP".

There's a message for us all here:  We spend a lot of time and effort "dating" but after the ceremony, do we really treat the customers with the right respect and experience?  If not, let's learn from this and make it a better user experience.  Make them happy and proud to have selected us.  Reward them, not penalize them. 

WELCOME should mean "WELCOME".  Keep the slaps for those who deserve it.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lincoln film generates big impact for Virginia

We've heard the new movie "Lincoln" is another great work from Steven Speilberg and has produced massive financial impact on Virginia - in a GOOD way!

"...the filming of “Lincoln” in Richmond and Petersburg had direct expenditures of $32.4 million in the state and a total economic impact of $64.1 million.

They ticked off a ream of financial impacts: The film company hired 1,199 Virginia-based actors and extras and 380 crew members, required 23,580 room nights in hotels and apartments, and benefited businesses ranging from grocery stores to restaurants to even antique stores.

 The state spent years trying to attract the film production to their state, with the result a financial windfall.

Maybe other communities and states may want to re-examine the creative options and tools available to help attract filming to their communities - such as easier interaction with the local communities. is one such tool that's helping communities compete for filming in ways beyond tax incentives.

For now, let's appreciate the great work from Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell and others who have worked hard and are celebrating the success of those efforts!

Full Story below

Friday, November 9, 2012

Henry County TV producer

Henry County Article

Mother starring in, producing independent drama

 Roslyn Evans, a local multifaceted talent, is producing a TV pilot as part of her initiative to bring filming to Henry County, GA (a FLIPSFilm community). 

Let's wish her the best of luck for her pilot (break a leg, Roslyn!)

See the attached article for the full story...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Challenges of Film Permitting and Approvals

Indie Source Magazine article about The Challenges of Film Permitting and Approvals

Indie Source Magazine's October 31, 2012 magazine (best viewed on a tablet format) allowed me to reflect on the  market issues we hear about the filming/TV approval process, both from government and filmmakers.

There's lots of reasons things happen - both good and not so good - but there is a clear positive intent from everyone to try to make things better for cash starved local communities and film/TV/event producers.

Check out the article and share your stories and experiences about film approvals and permitting from local governments.  We'd love to hear your perspective, too! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Disney Acquires Lucas Film

In a major milestone, Disney has acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion dollars.

That's quite an accomplishment for both companies!

Well done and thanks for providing the industry with the highest quality entertainment for many years and hope the future combination of these powerhouses results in even more success!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Film Permitting and Approval Survey Results from US Film Commissions and Local Community Film Contacts

1 The following are the results of a survey conducted by Community Approvals, Inc. during October, 2012.   

   US Film commissioners and local film contacts/coordinators in US states/counties/cities were queried about the processes and issues associated with film approvals and/or permitting in their communities.
   For information, please contact Dale Sizemore, CEO, Community Approvals, Inc. at

   Copyright 2012, all rights reserved.


  •   Communities appear to consider filming important for their communities.  They have devoted personnel resources to attracting filming, although filming approvals are 25% of the personnel's total responsibility in most cases; other job responsibilities occupy the remainder of their time.
  •  Community film coordinators use a wide range of tools to communicate and coordinate film approval requests.  Most communication between internal departments is conducted during regular business hours (which may explain later goals of improved communication, faster approvals, better community reputation with the industry).
  • The responding communities have significant experience in the number of films / TV productions conducted in their communities over the past 2 years.  These are experienced film contacts.
  • Areas to be improved from existing processes include:
    • Improved accuracy and completeness of film applications
    • Easier interdepartmental communication
    • Faster approvals  
    • Less time spent approving applications
    • Improved reputation of the community with the filming community
  • Most responding communities would definitely want or would consider additional tools, such as online permitting systems, to improve their filming approval processes
  • New tools should be low priced, easy to use, configurable for each community, simple to implement, available 24x7, provide better records about filming project types and logistics and provide a unified permitting process.      

   Survey Results

11) What methods do you currently use to coordinate film permitting/approval requests in local communities (Note: “Community” means the area you are responsible for managing, whether statewide, county/Parrish or a local municipality.)
10.0%      A) Part time personnel who coordinate film requests with other departments or agencies
75.0%      B) Full time personnel who coordinate film requests with other departments or agencies
30.0%      C) Website with local community information listed (for each city, county/Parrish, state policy)
10.0%      D) No specific policies or resources

22) How do you provide film policy information or answer questions from prospective filmmakers during nights, weekends, holidays, across time zones, or vacation times when your personnel are not generally available?

47.6%      A) Respond when personnel return or the first opportunity to re-contact the filming contact     
38.1%      B) Emails                             
9.5%        C) After hour phone /fax calls to local departments
33.3%      D) Websites listing film permit policies/information
47.5%      E) All of the above          

33) Please describe the percentage of time your film coordination personnel spend coordinating filming approvals/permits with local community contacts?

70.0%      A) Film coordination activities are 25% of their total job responsibilities                                                 
10.0%      B) Film coordination activities are 50% of their total job responsibilities                                                  
10.0%      C) Film coordination activities are 75% of their total job responsibilities                                                  
10.0%      D) Film coordination activities are 100% of their total job responsibilities               

44) How do you currently contact other departments for their input on filming approvals/permits?

30.0%      A) Email from local community film contact 
25.0%      B) Phone calls from local community film contact                                                                                     

10.0%      C) Meetings from all involved department personnel                                                                                    
70.0%      D) All of the above
55) What is the average permitting approval time (average) for film/TV/Video productions (simple to moderate production – no pyrotechnics, stunts, etc.)?

75.0%       A) 1-3 days
25.0%       B) 3-7 days
5.0%         C) 7-14 days
0.0%         D) More than 14 days

66) How many productions (Film,TV,Video) has your community hosted in the past 2 years? (estimated)

14.3%      A) 1-10                                                                                                                                                  
23.8%      B) 11-30  
61.9%      C) 30+
0.0%        D) Zero or unknown                                                                                                                                

77) What would you like to see changed in the film approval/permitting process for your communities? (check all that apply)

43.8%      A) Improved accuracy and completeness of film application information from applicants                              
25.0%      B) Easier communication between departments approving film request                                                   
31.3%      C) Faster approval processes overall                                                                                                         
12.5%      D) Less time spent by department personnel involved in approving filming                                         
37.5%      E) Community reputation for service to film productions                              

88)  If there were film approval/permitting tools (such as web based systems) that didn’t require a lot of effort on your part and were a good price, would you consider using them to extend (not replace) your current methods of film approvals/permitting?

4.8%        A) Yes                                                                                                                                                
38.1%      B) No                                                                                                                                            
57.1%      C) Maybe                                                                                                                                                                     
9. What characteristics of an online permitting system would be most valuable to you?
(Select all that apply)
52.6%       A) Low Price                                                                                                                                          
57.9%       B) Ease of Use
26.3%       C) Little or no technical integration with community back office systems
5.3%         D) Pay-as-you-use pricing
21.1%       E) Fixed pricing
47.4%       F) Customized to each community’s approval/permitting requirements
21.1%       G) Improved speed of approvals
47.4%       H) Simple to implement
36.8%       I) Available 24x7 to share communities’ policy information
42.1%       J) Better records about approvals, types of filming, and filming details
47.4%       Other (please specify)
·         We have our own permitting system currently that is web based

·         We already use an on-line permitting system built in-house that is quite effective. Takes 20 minutes to issue a permit. Over the past 2 years, over 250 permits have been issued.

·         One that can integrate multiple agency forms for centralized processing yet keep things separate for the agencies

·         Permitting and production information forms that cover communities and also included state, county and agencies.

·         Most permitting is handled at a Federal level

·         Would have to be integrated and approved by public sector partners

·         Unified Permitting structure

·         The city already provides this

·         Ei of project