Park Place: Film industry parking sends LaToya Coats’ career into overdrive.

latoya coats of Park2Film with her children Jaide (left) and Aj Nowling-Coats.

By Mike Nelson | Photos by Viktor Budnik

It’s not unusual, driving around greater Los Angeles, to see bright fluorescent signs attached to lamp posts or fences, with notices bearing an arrow and a code word that means, essentially, the same thing: “Parking for the film crew you’re part of is that way.”

Chances are good that such parking has been coordinated and arranged by a young former certified nurse’s aide who thought she’d be spending her life caring for the elderly. But now, LaToya Coats, the energetic founder, owner and CEO of Park2Film, spends her life on call, 24/7 when necessary, finding and arranging parking spaces and base camps for Hollywood production companies.

Put another way, this Simi Valley mother of two is still offering care, comfort and peace of mind, albeit for a very different type of clientele — film company production managers and coordinators who contact Coats when location filming is essential and they need places to park and/or set up a base of operations.

“Like with nursing, what I do now involves problem solving,” says Coats, on this day taking a quick break from scouting possible parking locations for production company trucks in Burbank and Glendale. “And yes, there is often anxiety involved to meet deadlines that production companies have, as well as logistical concerns that host locations have. But after it’s handled, there is the reward of knowing that everything came together.”

How Coats came to establish this young but growing company is a combination of faith, family, circumstance and philosophy that is encapsulated in how she signs off each correspondence: “Kindly, LaToya.”

A passion for caring

Growing up in a Christian family, Coats knew she wanted to spend her life serving others. Born in Inglewood, one of seven children, she moved with her family to Simi Valley when she was 6 years old, attending public, private and home schools. She earned her certification as a nurse’s aide from a local trade school, and worked for several hospitals.

“I have a passion to care for the elderly, make people happy and see them get better,” she says. “Once COVID hit, though, and with two young children to raise, I left nursing, not knowing for sure what to do next.”

One of her neighbors was a location manager for a film studio. Knowing Coats’ dedication to working hard for those in her care, they asked her to find parking lots for movie crews.

“I looked into the business of film production parking,” she says, “and I didn’t find any firms handling that need. So I started Park2Film.”

PARK2FILM specializes in finding parking and base camp locations for film crews, which often have lots of staff, equipment and large vehicles to accommodate.

Soon enough, through word of mouth, her own perseverance and faith in her ability “to solve problems people don’t even know they have,” Coats established a solid clientele of production companies working on feature films, television shows, music videos, documentaries, commercials and magazine shoots.

“We’ve worked with union and non-union companies, and we’ve had a good share of repeat business,” she says. Park2Film now boasts a healthy and growing online database to offer production companies dozens of options to accommodate their parking-on-location needs.

“A lifesaver”

The process begins when production managers or coordinators contact Coats and tell her their parking or base camp needs, including the days, times and duration of shooting, and how many vehicles they’ll need to accommodate. Such vehicles might include cast trailers, hair and makeup trailers, wardrobe trailers, bathrooms and catering facilities set up for cast and crew. Coats then consults her parking lot database to determine if parking is available at a desired location for the desired time frame.
“I either offer options or, if nothing suitable is available, I scout for different locations,” she says. “Our list includes hotels, churches, public and privately owned lots, any property that’s usable for parking.”

Once the location is established, Coats links company officials with the location owners, who discuss the logistical, contractual and legal concerns. Park2Film also does “exclusives,” where Coats serves as host and manages the property.

“Sometimes property owners don’t want to manage a production during the filming process,” she says. “In that case, we manage the property for them. I negotiate the price, I make sure the contracts and insurance are in order, and I make sure that everything is in place for the shooting period.”

Among the productions for whom Park2Film has arranged location parking is Hello Sunshine’s “Run Your Own Race” ad campaign for the Saysh Felix Runner shoe, featuring Olympian Allyson Felix.

“But a lot of the time,” says Coats, “I don’t even know the talent involved. My clientele has been the production managers, the producers, the production coordinators, and it’s rewarding when I’m able to take a load off of their plate. They say I’m a lifesaver, and that’s how I get repeat business.”

Challenges and rewards

Not that it’s ever been easy. Having launched her company during the pandemic, Coats encountered another “barrier to get over” last year with an entertainment industry strike that dramatically curtailed production.

“It’s been challenging,” she admits, “but I just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. And as a single mom it’s challenging to do this, but as a Christian, I rely on God to help me through the tough times. I love where I’m at.”

Coats hopes to grow Park2Film to serve a wider range of clients in and beyond the Greater Los Angeles area. That means stretching herself, which she admits doesn’t come naturally.

“I’m a woman who doesn’t like change,” Coats says. “I’ll order the same thing in a restaurant, and I don’t like to change what’s comfortable for me. So I’m happy I could go after something I wasn’t familiar with and establish a business that serves others in a positive way.”

It’s a lesson she likes to share with other young women.

“If you are passionate about something, go for it,” she says, “especially if you have a chance to be able to work on your own and leave a legacy for your children. Above all, be kind. It makes a difference.”