The District government is rolling out the red carpet and cutting the red tape -- for filmmakers and TV producers who want to make films here.
Yesterday, Mayor Marion Barry issued an administrative order establishing a Motion Picture and Television Development Office as part of his continuing push for economic development in the District.
The office is one person, Richard Maulsby, 37, an appointed "trouble-shooter." His $22,000 salary will be paid out of the budget of the Office of Business and Economic Development.
"We hope this will eliminate the negative image the city has for filmmakers," said Maulsby, a former producer and director for the film unit of the American Red Cross. "Several years ago, Tom McLaughlin, who made and starred in the 'Billy Jack' films, came here to shoot. He had such a terrible time trying to get permits to shoot on locations that he finally threw up his hands and went back to California.
"For instance, there are so many police agencies to deal with -- the city police, the Secret Service police, the park police," Maulsby said. "Now filmmakers will have a one-stop office to cut the red tape."
Motion Picture Association President Jack Valenti said he "applauded" the District's efforts. "Similar offices have been set up in other states, and it's been very helpful. But I do not believe that is the reason why many films are not shot here," he said. "Film production has been on the upswing in Washington anyway. What brings people to a city to film is the script, the ambiance that is called for."
Maulsby said the District will advertise its new service and produce a catalogue listing such available services as film processing, sound facilities, caterers and a variety of others. He hopes the Central Labor Council, which he said will work closely with him, will help find funds for these projects.
According to the mayor's office, filming can be lucrative for the location city. Washington revenues reportedly totalled $1.5 million after the TV show "Behind Closed Doors" and an equal amount after the movie "All the President's Men."