Woody Allen project gives San Francisco filming a boost

Getty Images File PhotoCity ambassador? The San Francisco Film Commission expressed hopes that Woody Allen’s 18 days of filming in San Francisco could encourage others to turn their lenses to The City.

After putting The City under his artistic spell, famed director Woody Allen is reportedly back in New York City. But local Film Commission officials hope to capitalize upon his decision to shoot his upcoming film in San Francisco.

Allen wrapped up location shooting last week, having generated excitement for weeks with repeated “Woody sightings.” He filmed in San Francisco for 18 days, visiting sites as iconic as Chinatown and as idiosyncratic as Gaspare’s Pizza House on Geary Boulevard.

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Filming moved to Casa Lucas Market in the Mission for one day, continuing from about 7 a.m. until noon.

“We were totally stoked about it,” co-owner Daniel Felix said. “It was cool.”

The film, which stars Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Peter Sarsgaard, is reportedly about a wealthy woman from New York City who finds herself broke in San Francisco, where she meets a wealthy man. In one scene, Felix said, he taught an actress how to use the cash register. Later, the actress  displayed tomatoes and fought with her on-screen ex-boyfriend, calling him a “grease monkey.”

Allen hired “a mostly local crew” of about 140 people, along with more than 350 local background extras, Film Commission Executive Director Susannah Robbins said. The production also hired 20 local security workers.

The director’s choice of San Francisco came at an opportune time for city officials working to attract more filming projects. The City’s once-thriving film industry collapsed as other states began offering huge financial incentives.

Ever since, San Francisco has put more effort into breathing new life into the industry, including trying to recast The City’s image as a friendly place to do business.

“We loved that Woody covered so much of San Francisco, as the film will showcase many of the unique neighborhoods that make up The City,” Robbins said. “I think this will help filmmakers see San Francisco in a different light. You don’t have to come here just to shoot the icons — San Francisco has so much more to offer than that.

“I also think that when this film airs, it will be really helpful to potentially boost film production in San Francisco,” Robbins said, “because filmmakers all over the world will see that Woody Allen could shoot a film here, so maybe it isn’t so costly or difficult as the old rumors would lead one to believe.”

Allen is expected to apply for The City’s film rebate, which was created in 2006 to cut filmmakers some cost breaks. The City’s program allows a rebate of up to $600,000 for expenses such as city fees and San Francisco’s payroll tax.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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