LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District is sometimes nicknamed the Hollywood District. This is because movie companies often need to shoot in uncongested and iconic areas of Los Angeles and regularly appeal to the Corps for permission to film on property we manage.
The famous Los Angeles River and flood control channel has been the backdrop and frequently used filming location for movie productions and television shows for decades. Portions of the movies Greece, Repo Man, Terminator, and, most recently, the Batman Dark Night series, to name just a few, were filmed there.
The district’s Asset Management Division permits and facilitates the use of the flood control channel and performs other types of real estate transactions for the district. For example, they manage operations and maintenance requirements for 16 dams, debris basins, and portions of the Los Angeles River.
“The reason why the film companies come directly to us is because, in most cases, the land they are asking about is land the federal government owns,” said Willie Starks, Asset Management specialist. “They have to get permission to film on federal property. Besides the very popular Los Angeles River, another location we manage and frequently get requests to film at is the Sepulveda Dam and spillway.”
Upon issuing a film permit, another group of Corps professionals step in to ensure the environment is protected and facilities are not damaged during filming. Most of all, they ensure filming is conducted in a safe manner.
“It’s important that we are on site to provide extra eyes for safety, but the movie companies have their own safety professionals on the scene too, and we work together,” said District Occupational and Safety Specialist Steve McCombs.
In May, the U.S. Army National Guard released their newest commercial, which was filmed in the Corps’ Whittier Narrows flood control basin.
“When we get to high risk maneuvers, like the Guard using a Blackhawk and fast roping with stunt people being pulled up and down with a crane, we want to make sure everything is done properly,” McCombs said. “For that commercial, we made sure the tip of the crane was lighted and had a flag in accordance with aviation safety.”
“One of the best things about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is that they have the flexibility to provide us with a location where we can be exclusive and have an opportunity to be protected,” said Lisa Bryan, Army National Guard new media program manager. “They helped us stage and put our equipment in place, and we look forward to continuing the successful relationship we’ve developed.”
For information about who to contact about film permits, please email the public affairs office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 213-452-3921.