Film industry looks promising for San Francisco's post-pandemic economic recovery

Cameras were rolling in San Francisco this weekend and filmmakers transformed the city's Financial District into an urban warzone. The city's film commission says the film industry is starting to recover and could play a big role in the San Francisco's post- COVID economic recovery.

The intersection of California and Drum Streets is back to normal after being transformed over the weekend. San Francisco's film industry is saying film-making has short and long term economic benefits to the city.

This weekend's film excitement was captured on mobile phone cameras and shared on social media as Nash Bridges shot an action sequence in San Francisco's Financial District. 

"When we were there it was pre-explosion and the actors Don Johnson and Cheech Marin were doing a shootout scene," said Susannah Greason Robbins from San Francisco's Film Commission.

San Francisco's Film Commission said the city's film making industry took a major hit over the last year. "When we first shut down between March 13th, and June 12th, we issued zero permits," said Greason Robbins. Normally, during that time we would have issued 153."

Now after a long year with little to no new projects, filmmaking is making a comeback in San Francisco. "I'd say right now we're about 60% of normal and it just keeps ramping up," said Greason Robbins.

The city's film commission says in addition to paying for permits to shoot in the city, filmmakers tend to hire local workers and buy local supplies.

The film commission estimates that over its 18-day shooting schedule Nash Bridges will spend $1.5 million dollars in addition to providing work for 125 crew members and 300 background actors. "They are purchasing food for craft services and catering, they're renting equipment, they're buying as for their trucks, they have lots of equipment rentals," said Greason Robbins. "They have location fees. Even the COVID tests they have to do, they're paying local labs to do those tests."

Tourism experts say beyond the immediate boost that filmmaking provides, movies and TV shows also have long term benefits for San Francisco. Films like the upcoming marvel superhero film Shang-Chi, and The Matrix 4 raise awareness of the city and keep it on the minds of potential visitors. 

"It's critical. It's critically important to us," said Joe D’Alessandro from SF Travel. "Especially right now as the city tries to recover from COVID.  And this exposure to a global audience about more of San Francisco just helps build the demand, the desire to come and visit San Francisco."

Filmmaking is still ramping up, in the months ahead you can expect to see another Marvel film shot here in San Francisco in June, and again in October.