L.A. Sunset?

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The Independent Online
THE NEW joint venture between Miramax and De Niro is just the latest sign that film production is gravitating away from its traditional home in southern California.

Hollywood's main attractions - the expertise of local crews, the cost benefits of shooting on the back lots of the studios financing the films, and great weather - are all becoming less compelling as the industry becomes more mobile, more advanced and much more money conscious.

For years, southern California has slowly been pricing itself out of the market. Real estate has become so inflated that many studios have either sold off their back lots to property developers or adapted them to other uses, notably television productions.

The Fox lot in west Los Angeles, for example, was sold off in the 1970s and turned into the Century City office and shopping complex, familiar to fans of the original Die Hard movie. With costs spiralling for top-line stars and marketing, studios have tried to squeeze "below the line" costs, such as equipment rentals and wages for crews. Union representation for camera and lighting operators has eroded as studios threaten to take productions elsewhere.