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

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Two Year Milestone

This past weekend, our company reached the two year anniversary as a startup.  We are now in the 69% of small businesses that succeed past 2 years!  WOW...

Looking back over the past 2 years, we had a lot of interesting experiences.  Many were painful.   A lot were magnificent.

I met unselfish people who were inspirational, both with their willingness to help in many ways and with their support when we needed it the most.

Of course, I'm grateful to everyone who has helped us get this far. You've helped more than you can imagine and I assure you, it's possible to touch or even change someone's life with a simple gesture, kind word or a little courage to say "maybe".

I recently read a good article about startups. ( How to know your side project is ready to be a startup;

It's a good checklist for any startup company.  Here's how we compare...:

1) We are doing something we love - helping bring jobs to local, cash starved communities while helping filmmakers stay on budget, especially for smaller independent TV and film productions.  What's not to love!?

2) We are making revenue (Thank You early customers!)  Next year, I hope we can eat less popcorn for dinner.

3) We know the BIG VISION - FLIPSFilm can be an important part of all 23,075 US communities, but also all the film production companies and even communities around the world!  I saw firsthand the need to make film planning easier, faster and more streamlined in countries around the world.  There's more FLIPSFilm can do, but we can't reveal everything here!

4)  Founders really are low man on the totem pole.  Wow - what a learning experience. I am amazed at the energy level maintained by fellow entrepreneurs.  Some of them are so smart it makes my brain hurt.  They know so much - how can they know so much at such a young age?  If you have an ego problem, become an entrepreneur.  That'll cure it quickly.

5) We have a responsibility to employees, contractors, customers and investors. It's easy to get distracted and forget people are staking their time, reputation and money on us. We absolutely must deliver on our commitments - people are counting on us to do what we say and do it well  (and be nice about it!).  We are on track so far and have a lot more to do but it's a good reminder this isn't a game - it's serious stuff and we should all treat it as such, but that doesn't mean we cannot have fun doing it.

Filmmakers large and small, local communities and vendors have all expressed their excitement and gratitude with FLIPSFilm because of our impact.  Makes me proud...

Special thanks to my wife, Kathy, for putting up with all the things that entreprenuers have to do. 

I hope the next 2 years have even more gratifying experiences, with more people involved, more benefits to local communities and new ideas.  There's a lot of nice people out there and I look forward to meeting them!