Several months ago a progression of disturbing Downtown filming events culminated with a low flying helicopter buzzing our rooftops at midnight on a Sunday. Residents and business owners in Downtown voiced their opinions against the way they were being treated by film crews. In response the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) formed and ad-hoc committee on filming issues. I have attended many of their meetings over the past months.
FilmLA gives us the notifications as Microsoft Word documents. There is an open source application that converts MS Word files into text called wvWare, which I had previously used for another project. I set up an special email address that I (or at some point FilmLA) can email the notifications to at which point qmail hands off the email to a php script that I wrote, which pulls out all the attachments, feeds them to wv and then parses the text wv produces. Currently I am able to parse about 90% of the notifications, but some of them are now being sent in PDF and RTF formats. In the near future I am going to enhance the parse to handle those formats as well.
After the raw data is parsed it is sent to a Ruby on Rails application that I wrote that uses YM4R to integrate with Google Maps. Using the Downtown Filming Maps application I wrote you can now search by date range and keyword to see what is going in, filming-wise, in Downtown. You can also subscribe your iCalendar compatible calendar application to see what is going on. The application is still in beta, and doesn't have 100% of the filming locations on it, nor does it show any parking or road closures from filming.
In the near future I plan to add:
- More parsing ability
- Different colored icons to designate upcoming, current and past productions
- Ability to comment and upload photos for each production
- Ability to get email notification when productions are scheduled within a user defined radius of an address
Check out the Downtown LA Filming Notification Map and tell me what you think. The screengrab above shows all the notifications in the system which goes back to the beginning of April. The map shows a week in the past and a week in the future by default.
There is currently a large helicopter flying almost directly above my loft. It has been circling for nearly 2 hours. The helicopter is part of a film crew that is filming a block north of my loft. The crew is parked both in the parking lot next to my loft, and the lot across the street where I park.
We were not notified. My wife has to wake up at 4:30 AM tomorrow for nursing school. It is almost midnight. I do not know where to turn in this situation.
I started out by calling 311, they forwarded me to the non-emergency LAPD dispatch who forwarded me to the LAPD's Air Support Watch Commander. The Sergeant on watch was a nice fellow, and I could tell he felt bad that he couldn't do anything about the disturbance. The deal is that if there is a permit, they have every right to be in the air, no matter who they are. He said that if I had a complaint I would need to jot down the tail letters and call the company in charge of the bird.
UPDATE I currently don't see or hear the helicopter, so hopefully the crew has wrapped for the night. Either way my wife is wearing ear protection and seems to be fast asleep.
UPDATE Part 2 Oh joy the helicopter is back. So far I've been contacted by 4 other Downtown residents. Eric Richardson blogged about it. The adhoc DLACN Film Issues meeting
tomorrow today should be quite interesting. I won't be able to make it, but my wife will be there to voice our opinions.
UPDATE Part 3It is now 5am, my wife is getting up for nursing school, normally I would be asleep, but the crew is banging poles on the ground as they disassemble the circus tents in the parking lot across the street from my loft. Time for me to don the ear protection. Nice.