Bay Area Women in Film & Media is excited to announce a new addition to our monthly news! We have added a new feature, which is the BAWIFM Member Spotlight! This will feature a BAWIFM Member, so you can get to know how amazing our members are and their contribution to women in media!
INTRODUCE YOURSELF, WHAT IS YOUR NAME AND JOB TITLE?
Hello, Brena Bailey here, the Film Commissioner for the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Film Commission, which is a department within the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau.
ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM THE SF BAY AREA? IF NOT, WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THE BAY?
I am a Southern, country girl at heart, born and raised in a small town called Natchitoches, Louisiana. I am probably the only Film Commissioner in California that can milk a cow. I lived in the South all of my youth, attending college in Jackson, TN and Atlanta, GA. I know Southern hospitality, and with that as a background, have been told that I make everyone feel welcome and at home while filming in San Mateo County/Silicon Valley! After graduation, I went to Europe, met my English husband (in a pub, of course) and after four years of “gray days” in London, I convinced him to move back to the States. With the international & cosmopolitan feel of the SF Bay Area, we have loved calling it home ever since.
I started my career in magazine advertising/publishing in London, where I worked on three major American-style magazines (Custom Cars, Small Boats and Caravan & Camping). I held additional marketing and sales positions, as well as a corporate human resources position at a large chain photography portraiture studio, all of which helped prepare me for the Film Commissioner position I have held for the past 15 years. The San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau established the Film Commission 15 years ago.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR FILM MAKERS TO UTILIZE THE FILM COMMISSION AS A RESOURCE?
Because it is SMART! It’s free and it offers a wealth of resources to your filmmaking team! Our office assists and supports a film project during all stages of the filmmaking process. We can be particularly helpful in the pre-planning stages of a film project, all the way through until you are on location and filming. We offer free filming location consultation, script breakdown for locations, local referral service/contacts, location scouting, “film friendly” low cost accommodation assistance, and information on city & county film regulations. We serve as liaison to area governments and offer an extensive, up-to-date library of filming locations
WHAT CITIES ARE INCLUDED IN THE SAN MATEO COUNTY/SILICON VALLEY FILM COMMISSION?
On the Bayside, our jurisdiction is from South San Francisco to Palo Alto and on the ocean side from Daly City to Ana Nuevo State Reserve. Our Pacific coast side includes 52 miles of dramatic and versatile coastline and 13 cities. Our area also includes unincorporated county towns and roads and all of the San Mateo County Parks and the CA State Parks, as well.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO BECOME A BAWIFM MEMBER?
Networking, networking, networking with like-minded professional industry women…why wouldn’t you?
CAN YOU TELL US SOME FILMS THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW WERE FILMED IN THE SF PENINSULA?
“Chasing Mavericks” Sony Pictures, starring Gerard Butler
“Jobs” starring Ashton Kutcher – story about entrepreneur Steve Jobs
“The Interns” starring the comedy team Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson
“The Master” starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman
“Memoirs of a Geisha” Sony Pictures, shot at San Mateo County’s Fitzgerald Marine Reserve cliffs
“The Darwin Awards” with Winona Ryder, shot in La Honda and on Pescadero Creek Road
“RENT” musical feature film, shot at Filoli Mansion & Gardens
WHAT DOES A DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU AT THE PENINSULA FILM COMMISSION?
Every day is different, which is one of the best things I love about this job. I love the diversity of the projects with a multitude of location requests and working with fun and creative production professionals. But, best of all are the different and sometime challenging puzzles to solve. We work with production crews from around the world, matching specific filming location requests to our area - everything from documentaries to car commercials to reality TV and feature films. We help connect the film maker to the right person for planning and permitting a specific filming location. Our vast knowledge of the area saves a creative team a great deal of time and money by connecting, referring, supplying blank film permits and contact information about filming in our area. I am the “Concierge” of San Mateo County/Silicon Valley. We know exactly what we can offer the film trade. We know where to find a water truck to water down the roads for a car commercial, we know the tide tables and when the sun rises and sets, as well as which fruits and vegetables are being grown when on the coast. We help film makers save time and stay within budget.
WHAT PART OF YOUR JOB DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST?
Discussing a filming location need for a film project (any project - a still shoot, indie film, commercial, documentary or feature film) and then finding a match. We love fulfilling the creative team’s idea of that “perfect” location. I enjoy working with the filmmaker, assisting in all the other aspects of preparation to get the perfect shot at that perfect location, doing it the right and safe way for all concerned.
WHERE ARE SOME NEW OR INTERESTING VENUES IN THE PENINSULA THAT FILMMAKERS MIGHT NOT KNOW ARE AVAILABLE?
Bet you didn’t know our area has a film-friendly abandoned mushroom farm with various warehouses, office buildings, loading docks, parking lots and a junk yard... all located on 250 acres overlooking the Pigeon Point lighthouse and the Pacific Ocean! What about beautiful old-growth Redwood forests located only 45 miles from SFO, on film-friendly San Mateo County Parks Department land? We also have an entire Old West Town that welcomes filming, featuring a saloon, old western church, old west buildings (facades), a stage coach, and barn with corrals.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE FUTURE LANDSCAPE OF FILM IN THE PENINSULA?
Last year San Mateo County/Silicon Valley welcomed over 100 varied film projects, 38 of which were TV and web commercial projects. That number is always increasing, as most of our filmmakers return because the experience was so positive! Also, I am sure you have heard all of the great news around the signing of AB 1839, California’s new State Film Incentive Program that was recently passed to attract more feature film and television productions to our state. The even more exciting part of the bill is that it offers an additional five percent bump to film makers for “out of zone production” - which we finally achieved and which we all are hopeful will bring more work to our area. I will be attending the AFCI (Association of Film Commissioners International) Locations Trade Show in LA in March to promote our new incentives, as well as to showcase our area to film professionals. Our film business will continue to grow with outreach and positive word-of-mouth regarding film-friendly San Mateo County!
WHERE CAN PEOPLE GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SAN MATEO COUNTY/SILICON VALLEY FILM COMMISSION?
Brena Bailey, Film Commissioner, San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Film Commission
If you want more info on shooting in San Mateo/Silicon Valley, feel free to reach out to Brena! We hope you enjoyed our BAWIFM Member spotlight and hope you will come join us!