Several months ago a progression of disturbing Downtown filming events culminated with a low flying helicopter buzzing our rooftops at midnight on a Sunday. Residents and business owners in Downtown voiced their opinions against the way they were being treated by film crews. In response the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) formed and ad-hoc committee on filming issues. I have attended many of their meetings over the past months.
FilmLA gives us the notifications as Microsoft Word documents. There is an open source application that converts MS Word files into text called wvWare, which I had previously used for another project. I set up an special email address that I (or at some point FilmLA) can email the notifications to at which point qmail hands off the email to a php script that I wrote, which pulls out all the attachments, feeds them to wv and then parses the text wv produces. Currently I am able to parse about 90% of the notifications, but some of them are now being sent in PDF and RTF formats. In the near future I am going to enhance the parse to handle those formats as well.
After the raw data is parsed it is sent to a Ruby on Rails application that I wrote that uses YM4R to integrate with Google Maps. Using the Downtown Filming Maps application I wrote you can now search by date range and keyword to see what is going in, filming-wise, in Downtown. You can also subscribe your iCalendar compatible calendar application to see what is going on. The application is still in beta, and doesn't have 100% of the filming locations on it, nor does it show any parking or road closures from filming.
In the near future I plan to add:
- More parsing ability
- Different colored icons to designate upcoming, current and past productions
- Ability to comment and upload photos for each production
- Ability to get email notification when productions are scheduled within a user defined radius of an address
Check out the Downtown LA Filming Notification Map and tell me what you think. The screengrab above shows all the notifications in the system which goes back to the beginning of April. The map shows a week in the past and a week in the future by default.