FilmApp - how it got made
So – I was a Location Manager for 20 years, I loved that job – it was exhausting and stressful, but every day was different, and loved the challenge. I also really liked being freelance, I could take 2 or 3 months off every winter, and earn decent money the rest of the year. I also produced a load of pop promos, back when the music industry was splashing the cash.
In the 90’s I was getting interested in computers, and found my way into web development. I was rubbish at coding and design, but I could use my producer skills to gather together a crew who did know what they were doing.
In 2004 I made a career switch to local government – a odd choice you might think, but the council I was working with was Southwark, the most interesting borough to a Location Manager who loved old London. Southwark gave me free rein to develop a “film policy” – short lead in times and easy parking processes made Southwark popular among my peers.
We used faxes a lot back then, lots of printing and paper, and cheques and contracts being biked around. I knew that we had to have a better process, so I worked with a Polish developer to create an online permit process. It was not great, but it was cheap. Other film offices wanted the same system, but we could not scale the one we had built, so I started working on v2, a full spec online process built in .net. Around 10 Boroughs started to use FilmApp in 2009. We managed to agree on a common process, which was brilliant. Sadly, some boroughs wanted a bespoke service, so they went their own way, and London still does not have a joined-up film portal, which was always the dream. Nevertheless, a common process across 24 London boroughs (out of 33) is not bad.
Its now in use in Liverpool, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Suffolk. Birmingham and Manchester are joining soon. In the USA we are live in Atlanta, and another 4 Georgia counties. We have instances in California, Texas and Florida. Seattle, San Antonio and San Diego are coming on board soon.
I want to keep improving the service, the old .net (v3) filmapp is coming towards the end of its useful life. We have built v4 in “Ruby on Rails” a much more flexible and dynamic framework.
I won’t describe what filmapp can do – look elsewhere on the website for this info. However, I do want to encourage film makers and film officers to chip in with suggestions about how we might improve the service. Sensible suggestions only!
p.s. do you like the logo – I chose it because it looks like a traffic cone, (forgive me – a location managers joke!)