After the county trimmed half its annual budget earlier this year, the Santa Barbara County Film Commission announced this week that the Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association has contributed $10,000 to support it.

The $10,000 will come in handy since, because of budget cuts, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors slashed $25,000 from the $50,000 it has given the commission.

“The association’s commitment is a vote of confidence for the economic impact generated by filming and comes in response to the county’s reduction in Film Commission funding,” said Bill Phelps, president of the hotel group.

“The board of the Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association recognizes the value and importance of the Santa Barbara County Film Commission and the part it plays in marketing our area and capturing our share of the lucrative business of media production,” Phelps said. “While we had not originally budgeted for this request, we felt that it was important that we find a way to help fund and stand behind the Film Commission.”

The Film Commission was formed 15 years ago to serve as a point of contact for production companies looking to shoot in Santa Barbara. The commission assists with the permit process, refers local services, markets the county, and acts as a liaison between the production and the community.

“When location scouts, producers, and filmmakers call to ask for help pulling off a production in the area, there will be no one to pick up the phone and they will look elsewhere,” he said. “When you are a producer, you need to know where you can get local support, because when you run into problems, you end up burning money — that’s what we do is facilitate.”

In 2010, county supervisors considered eliminating the commission entirely. Cutting the commission wouldn’t completely kill the business, he said, but it would have a chilling effect on local media production.

Film Commission chief Geoff Alexander said the board wanted his agency to show its financial impact on the county. Alexander projected a 15 percent growth in the revenue the commission helps to generate.

Alexander said in 2010 the commission brought in 85 productions and 85 days of shooting, which generated $1.72 million in revenue. He said 102 productions were reported in the county and 287 days of shooting, which had a total effect of $7.9 million.

Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association was formed in 2010 and is comprised of 32 members in Solvang, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Buellton, and Ballard to administer funds collected by the Santa Ynez Valley Tourism Business Improvement District to promote overnight stays and economic vitality in the region.

To continue promoting media production in the county, the Film Commission has sought more funding outside government channels. Other funds have come from the Santa Maria Valley and Solvang chambers of commerce. The commission will continue fundraising activities to replace its budgetary shortfall, officials said.

Campus Mixer

Antioch University will host the Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber of Commerce business networking mixer from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 on the school’s rooftop patio at the new campus at 602 Anacapa Street.

The mixer will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, said chamber President Luis Villegas.

The cost is $5 for chamber members and $10 for nonmembers. For more information, call (805) 233-3690 or visit

The South Coast Biz Blog is a roundup of the latest business news in the Santa Barbara area and is written by Ray Estrada, who has covered business in the region for numerous publications over the past couple decades. See more at and


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