An occasional feature of BLM California's News.bytes

BLM and Ridgecrest Regional Film Commission cooperate on film permits

What began in 1994 as an experiment to streamline commercial film production by creating a public-private partnership has expanded to a successful prototype of filming on public lands.

Ridgecrest Regional Film Commissioner (RRFC) Ray Arthur and the Bureau of Land Management's Ridgecrest Field Manager Hector Villalobos signed a Memorandum of Understanding recently extending the two organizations' successful relationship through 2010.

Filming scenes for the 2004 movie "Blade: Trinity" at Poison Canyon:

The Ridgecrest BLM Office manages areas containing many popular film locations, including the Trona Pinnacles, Cuddeback Dry Lake, Jawbone Canyon, Dove Springs, Spangler Hills, and the Olancha Dunes.

One of the key elements of the MOU allows the Film Commission to prepare applications for minimal-impact filming on BLM-managed public lands in the area, for submission to the Ridgecrest BLM office.

According to the RRFC’s Arthur, this procedure saves time for all parties involved. "The preparation of a film permit application can be a confusing process to the film industry, necessitating numerous 'question and revision' phone calls," Arthur said. "After BLM training, the RRFC can dedicate our time to completing this task quickly and efficiently. This allows the BLM staff to use their resources more productively. Everyone wins."

Trona Pinnacles, a popular site for filming on BLM-managed lands:
scenic view of the towering pinnacles at Trona Pinnacles

Arthur noted the original 1994 MOU was so successful it became a template for many other public land jurisdictions throughout the Southwest, shortening a process that took over two weeks to under three days.

BLM's Villalobos has seen the benefits of continuing the MOU into the next decade. "Every year we process an average of about 50 minimal-impact film permits," he said. "This agreement allows the BLM to work in partnership with the Film Commission to streamline the permitting process. This benefits the film industry, our community, and the BLM."

Film production in the greater Ridgecrest region produces significant local revenues. Both the BLM and the RRFC see the results of this MOU as a small, but important incentive to help increase the economic development of film production to this Mojave "High Desert" community.

A scene in the Olancha Dunes (photo: Ridgecrest Area Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Olancha Dunes

Below: RRFC Film Commissioner Ray Arthur (left) shakes hands with BLM's Ridgecrest Field Manager Hector Villalobos after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.
RRFC Film Commissioner Ray Arthur (left) shakes hands with BLM's Ridgecrest Field Manager Hector Villalobos after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding

Ridgecrest Regional Film Commission website: http://filmdeserts.com/.

BLM California News.bytes, issue 239