Netflix series filming supports local economy

Caroline Cummings

FILMING IN MARIN, the new Netflix original series “13 Reasons Why” has supported economic growth in the local community. Marin cafes, hotels and caterers have seen an influx in demand as a result of the filming crews.

The filming of the Netflix original series “13 Reasons Why” began in Marin in June, and is expected to continue through mid-October, according to Deborah Albre, Marin County’s film liaison. The community has felt both economic growth and social disparity due to the filming of the series.

Based on the best-selling young adult novel of the same title by Jay Asher, the 13-episode series has filmed in various locations around Marin, including downtown San Rafael and Novato. The series is co-produced by Selena Gomez and directed by Tom McCarthy, director of the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight.”

The filming of “13 Reasons Why” has positively impacted Marin’s economy, according to Joanne Webster, President and CEO of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce.

“There have been a lot of what we call ‘heads in beds.’ That means that there’s been a lot of hotel rooms that have been used, a lot of local caterers are being used for jobs, and we know that [the production crew] has hired some local people,” Webster said. “They are definitely utilizing our restaurants and our coffee shops, so overall the impact economically has been very positive.”

According to Tom Adams, the Economic Development Coordinator in San Rafael, the city of San Rafael has already made a profit of around $50,000 from the filming.

Adams also stated that the filming has led to the hiring of many local people as well.

“The film industry is sort of interesting; it’s sort of like a circus or something, where they all come together for a production and they build this business around the production, hire all these people,” Adams said. “When it’s done everybody goes and they either go work on a new film or go work on something else.”

There were some concerns about the inconvenience that the filming would bring to the community, but according to Webster, it was nothing unmanageable.

“They have filmed in a lot of our neighborhoods and that was definitely a concern on behalf of the chamber and the city of San Rafael and how that was going to play itself out,” Webster said. “They’ve had road closures and neighbors were definitely inconvenienced, but they were so good with their outreach and they acted very neighborly.”

Although the production crew has tried to keep from disturbing locals, it is still hard to keep everyone in the community happy, according to Adams.

“The production itself has done a very good job working with the neighborhoods, but it’s hard to get around the fact that there is a footprint, meaning they have a certain number of trucks and a certain number of equipment and everything that they need to produce the show,” Adams said.

The production crew has given compensation to any neighborhoods that have been inconvenienced by the filming, according to Albre.

“If they are disturbing people, they’ve gone around to all the neighborhoods and they’ve done signature surveys of the neighborhood so each person that is in the radius of wherever they’re going to be shooting has actually written down permission for them to film and Netflix is giving them compensation if they do shoot later hours,” Albre said.

The crew has also made a real effort to show their appreciation for the understanding of the community,  according to Webster. Every August, the San Rafael Police Department hosts a “Night Out,” where the community has the opportunity to get to know their local police officers, and this year, it was hosted by Netflix in the Gerstle Park neighborhood where the crew had done a lot of their filming.

Webster hopes that the filming of “13 Reasons Why” will lead to the filming of other productions in Marin as well.

“What we’re hoping is that this lends itself to more of these companies wanting to film here, certainly in Marin County. We have a beautiful county the landscape and backdrop is really great to film in,” Webster said.

Webster also thinks it would be helpful for the crew to spread the word about using Marin as a location.

“Hopefully they articulate their experience has been really positive to any other companies that want to come here,” Webster said.

In addition to spreading the word to other film crews, Adams thinks it will benefit Marin’s tourism industry. Although he thinks the increase in tourism directly caused by the series “13 Reasons Why” will be fairly small, it is something he plans to use as marketing in the future.

“We’ll use it as marketing and that sort of thing in the long term: ‘Home of ‘13 Reasons Why,” Adams said.

Albre hopes the filming will help make the whole process of getting the right permits to film in Marin a lot more efficient.

“[Marin County] is diversified in filming because each city or town has its own contacts with their own procedures for filming,” Albre said. “So with ‘13 Reasons Why,’ I’m hoping the main impact from that is there will be more of a standardized film permitting procedure for the whole county.”