California’s Top Five Competitors for Film & TV Production

California’s Top Five Competitors for Film & TV Production

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Noticing the popularity of a story we ran about California’s top competitors last June, Film Works staffers decided to take a second look at California top five competitors (including U.S. states and other nations) for film and television production.

Of course, as anyone who follows the Film Works blog knows, most other jurisdictions’ Hollywood dreams are sustained by incentive programs and all kinds of unreasonable assumptions.   We’re basing our (admittedly non-scientific) list on a few data points gleaned from competing jurisdictions own reports: amount of total film production spending, total number of projects and total cost of operation.

Based on this analysis, California’s top five North American competitors are — wait for it — New York, Louisiana, British Columbia, Georgia and Ontario.  Again.

While the top five competitors are the same as last year, their individual rank in the top five and share of the total production spending has changed.  There is also some question about who really deserves the #2 and #3 spot, since it’s unclear from available data how much of Louisiana’s $1.4 billion take was spent in-state.  In the past, research has shown that a good chunk of the Pelican State’s reported totals have actually benefited other places, including California.  Regardless, assuming $1.4 billion was wholly spent in Louisiana last year, the total cost of its no-cap tax credit program (which covers 30-35% of production costs) will balloon from just under $200 million in 2010 to over $420 million in one year.

New York’s hold on the #1 slot is secure, because in addition to incentivized productions the state has a tremendous amount of non-incentivized film and television production.  It’s certain that total production spending in New York, incentivized and non-incentivized, would place it very far ahead of its closest rival, which appears to be Louisiana for now.

Another interesting observation is that total production spending in these top five competitors amounted to $4.3 billion two years ago and $5.3 billion in 2011.  Why the increase?  There’s not enough detail to know.  It’s possible there are simply more projects in production and more money being spent on them.  Another possibility is that these lucky jurisdictions saw  increases after film incentive programs in places like Michigan and New Mexico were curtailed or cut back.

By way of comparison, the amount of production spending just on wages alone in California exceeded $16 billion in 2009.  So there’s good news for the Golden State in that even our top five competitors do not receive as much film activity as we do here in California.  The downside is that California has not five, but literally dozens of competitors competing globally with us for film and television projects.  Despite the robust level of production that remains in California, and the natural advantages to shooting here, the outflow of incentive-fueled runaway production is damaging our state’s skilled workforce our economy.

Here’s to hoping the turn-around starts sometime in 2012.

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