SF's Star Fades Further as Cops Milk Filmmakers

Painted Ladies may go the way of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard

You may be seeing even less of San Francisco's world-famous sights like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Transamerica pyramid on the silver screen thanks to increases in hourly fees for security on film sets from the San Francisco Police Department.

San Francisco has a long history as a backdrop for motion pictures, from Charlie Chaplin's heyday to Dirty Harry. But Oscar-nominated Milk, about the life of murdered gay rights activist and former city supervisor Harvey Milk, was the rare recent production filmed on the city's streets.

The SFPD is raising rates on officers hired to police outdoor film shoots more than five percent, with new rates starting at $97.50 an hour during the day for a uniformed motorcycle officer and up to $111 for a squad car after dark.

And it's not an optional expense -- depending on the size of the production and the necessity for traffic or crowd control, one or more officers may be required, a decision made by the local Film Commission and the SFPD.

The increase also affects event organizers, meaning street festivals and outdoor concerts beloved by residents could also see increased costs.

Filmmakers have come up with creative ways to avoid the city -- the latest installment in the X-Men franchise was set in San Francisco, but no footage was actually shot in the city. Instead, scenes like the climax on the Golden Gate Bridge werepu assembled from photographs and sets built in Los Angeles, then combined through computer graphics.

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