San Pedro and the Port of Los Angeles are already frequent filming locations for TV shows such as “NCIS” and “Dexter”; now, the harbor area is trying to become a bigger fixture on the film festival circuit.
For almost a decade, San Pedro has played host to the LA Harbor International Film Festival at the Warner Theater each May. Later this month, it will get a another one, called the San Pedro International Film Festival, or Spiff.
The festival’s founder, Ziggy Mrkich, said she expects the majority of attendees to come from the surrounding area and believes the area has more than enough interest from residents and film industry types to support both festivals.
“The film industry is aware of San Pedro as a shooting location and people down there like festivals and like films. There’s room for one more,” she said.
Mrkich has held various jobs in Hollywood over the years and has also served as the program director for the Santa Catalina Film Festival. She had the idea for Spiff about a year ago after identifying the harbor area as her ideal location, given its growing artistic community and historic venues.
She brought in about 10 volunteers to help, and has been financing the event with sponsorships from the likes of beverage brand Monster Energy and organizations such as the San Pedro Visitors & Convention Bureau. She has sourced the funding through the San Pedro non-profit Croatian Cultural Center of Greater Los Angeles.
The festival is preselling three-day tickets for $39, while individual screenings will cost $10 and some events will be free.
The idea is to showcase films that have garnered solid buzz at the bigger festivals that are simply inaccessible for many people. For example, the closing-night film is “Silver Linings Playbook,” a comedy-drama starring Bradley Cooper that premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival. Other events will include Q&A’s with filmmakers and panel discussions.
While some filmmakers have provided their movies with no charge, the festival has had to pay to show some others. As a first-year event, Mrkich’s festival has to work to convince filmmakers, distributors and sales agents that Spiff will be a worthwhile place to screen their material.
Still, Mrkich said she has garnered support from sponsors and filmmakers alike.
The festival will run Oct. 12-14 at the Warner Theater, the auditorium of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and other locations.
With Anschutz Entertainment Group on the block, all eyes are on who will pay up for the company’s shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kings, Galaxy and marquee properties such as L.A. Live.
AEG, meanwhile, hasn’t taken its eye off growing its empire even further: The company announced a deal late last month that will give it joint ownership of ticketing company Front Gate Tickets of Austin, Texas. Front Gate handles ticket sales for live music events, including some of the country’s largest festivals, such as AEG’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.
For the deal, L.A.-based AEG partnered with C3 Presents, an Austin company that also produces live music festivals such as the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza in Chicago.
Part of the idea is for AEG is to grow its newly launched ticketing business, Axs. Like AEG, Axs is owned by Anschutz Corp. of Denver.
“The Front Gate acquisition is a perfect complement to our Axs ticketing company,” Bryan Perez, president of digital, ticketing and media at AEG, said in a statement. “The festival experience is like no other and we believe it is best served by a ticketing platform that understands and innovates around that uniqueness.”
Santa Monica independent studio Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. secured an $800 million line of credit from a host of banks in a deal announced last week.
The studio touted the deal as one of the largest such facilities offered to an entertainment company in the past decade.
The financing was led by JPMorgan Chase Bank, with a syndicate of other lenders including Barclays Bank PLC, Merrill Lynch, Royal Bank of Canada, Wells Fargo Bank, SunTrust Bank and Union Bank.
The studio is set to release the latest “Twilight” film later this year and the next installment of “The Hunger Games” next year. One lender said the deal shows confidence in the studio’s franchises, which have grossed huge sums.
“The size of the new facility is a testament to the company’s strong relationships with the financing community, and the value of its franchises and filmed entertainment library,” said David Shaheen, managing director and head of JPMorgan’s entertainment industries group, in a statement.
Staff reporter Jonathan Polakoff can be reached at email@example.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 226
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