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For $1,929, Mayonnaise Commercial Gets Carte Blanche Over Garfield Park

Should film companies be allowed to push park visitors around?

Who gave this man permission to sit on a tree? (Photo credit: Ajay Singh)
Who gave this man permission to sit on a tree? (Photo credit: Ajay Singh)

Every day, scores of South Pasadena residents and others come to Garfield Park to exercise, relax, picnic or just hang out. On Wednesday morning however, the leafy, rose-studded seven-acre expanse of public land was transformed into something of a movie set as film crews went about shooting what they described as a mayonnaise commercial for the Dish network.

While production trucks hogged parking spaces along the park’s western edge off Mission, crew members went about their work as if they owned the place, telling visitors to stay clear of certain areas that formed the commercial’s backdrop.

As it happened, the crews did “own” Garfield Park—for the day. According to Joan Aguado, the city’s film liaison, the production company paid South Pasadena $530 for a one-day permit fee, $199 for business improvement tax and $1,200 for renting the park from 7 a.m. till 3 p.m. (at the rate of $150 per hour).

The total fee—$1,929—is considered “average to high” for a city, says Aguado. “In Los Angeles, including very tony neighborhoods like Hancock Park and Pacific Palisades, you can film for 10 days for somewhere around $700,” she said via e-mail, adding: “The parks have a flat [fee] of $450/day rather than an hourly [charge]. Pasadena is similar to us. If you ask production people, they will tell you that we are expensive.”

While that’s terrific for the city’s coffers, you have to wonder how all those moms felt when they were forced to push their strollers away from the film camera’s view.

Correction: The initial version of this article mistakenly identified the city's film liaison as Jane Aguado. Her correct name is Joan Aguado.

Ron Rosen January 16, 2014 at 09:50 AM
The moms probably felt that it was interesting that there was a film shoot in the park. Some may have felt slightly inconvenienced. Others may have suffered severe and permanent psychological damage.
SHouse January 16, 2014 at 10:31 AM
We are TIRED of all of the filming in So. Pas. especially around the Library!!! It causes traffic and parking issues. Us residents are constantly being inconvenienced by all of the filming with no up-side for us! We should have a say in whether or not it's okay to film in our neighborhoods. AND NO, we don't thinks it's right that a film crew gets Carte Blanche over one of our City Parks! We're getting tired of it!!!
Timothy Hillman January 16, 2014 at 10:42 AM
Perhaps they may want to think about the 50 or so families in this town whose main source if income is derived from the film industry. Tax paying working class people who participate in a fairly green industry that promotes the area and spends a lot more than $1,929.00 when they come to town. We have no big box store or car dealership to generate any income here. We have plenty of nail salons, massage parlors and Starbucks. A little inconvenience for a day with a large economic boost to the city can be tolerated.
Paula January 16, 2014 at 11:19 AM
I wonder why you have such an obviously negative view? Filming brings revenue into our city and keeps many, many people employed! Surely these "mean" "burly" men and women on the Big Bad Film Crew were not manhandling small children and helpless women and pushing them around! By the way many of South Pasadena residents are in the film and television industries! People complain about losing jobs in California and then what is perhaps one of the biggest industries in town leaves to film in other states and countries like Canada. With all the runaway productions, we should be happy to allow filming. Many home owners in South Pasadena make plenty of extra money off of these productions as well.
Another view January 16, 2014 at 01:26 PM
The city spends as much or more than they make on filming in the city. These same people can be employed on a studio lot and they can leave the trash in the lot rather than our yards (and yes they do leave trash behind) and yet another employed person at a studio can pick it up rather than a resident or homeowner. Only a few on a block get paid while the others who live on the block as well as all the other tax paying residents in the city get inconvenienced without compensation.
Timothy Hillman January 16, 2014 at 01:56 PM
Unfortunately, most of what you're saying is not true. I've been a location manager for 27 years and lived in South Pasadena for 18 years. I've filmed in South Pasadena and I make it a point to observe the film companies that come into this town because they represent me and my industry. I have reported, on very few occasions, film companies overstepping their bounds. And they are given very tight restrictions overseen by Ms. Aguado. She does not let them get away with anything. The "Mayonnaise" commercial you speak of used a corner of the park, not the whole park and they were there while the kids were in school. And, I believe someone mentioned the library earlier? You might want to ask the library how much income they receive from motion picture, television and commercial filming each year. I believe that many of the programs that they are able to put on are because of filming dollars. We are in Los Angeles County. What used to be the film capital of the world. Unfortunately, the NIMBY attitude in our town is extremely harmful to an industry on the edge. Not everything can be filmed on a back-lot. If you dislike filming so much, may I suggest that you not be a hypocrite and throw out your television as well as stop attending motion pictures. Oh, and in reference to your first line, "The city spends as much or more than they make on filming in the city." All of the personnel (fire, police, security, posting of NO PARKING signs) is paid for by the film company. Not one dime of city funding goes into a film shoot.
Another view January 16, 2014 at 02:33 PM
I wasn't speaking on the mayo commercial, just filming in SP in general, so yes what I am saying is true, and I am not a hypocrite if I want to watch tv or film but don't want it to be in my front yard or street. Your statements are a reflection of your experience, my statements are a reflection of my experiences, I appreciate your view I want people to see both sides. It doesn't have to be pick a side it just means there is more than one side of the story. The city does spend a dime or two , even if the police... Are paid by the film company. Nothing is free.
Paula January 16, 2014 at 02:55 PM
Can you tell me what the city spends?
Timothy Hillman January 16, 2014 at 03:34 PM
I encourage you to call Joan Aguado or the city financial officer or the city manager for that matter and find out what the city "spends" on a film shoot.
Toby Muller January 16, 2014 at 03:45 PM
I believe the name of the SP City Film Commissioner is Joan Aguado. Please make a note of it.
Ajay Singh (Editor) January 16, 2014 at 04:06 PM
Many thanks for the correction, Toby Muller. The fault is mine for misspelling Joan Aguado's first name as Jane.
Paula January 16, 2014 at 05:42 PM
I know what the city "spends" on all these film shoots. LOL
GenXsurvivor January 16, 2014 at 05:44 PM
The people complaining here simply have nothing better to do. Please go about your business. Ignore the whiners. Personally, when I see South Pasadena in films, TV shows, or commercials, it reminds me how "cool" of a place we live.
Runner2you January 16, 2014 at 10:23 PM
I like to see the filming taking place. It means people are working locally in Los Angeles. Industry tends to bring more traffic. If no commerce were taking place, it would be very quiet indeed. You can't have everything.
Betty Jean January 17, 2014 at 12:13 AM
Such sanctimonious drivel. I personally have no problem with film crews. Except for maybe the arrogant attitudes some may display at filming time and in this thread. ;)

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