If you spend any time in the Hollywood area, you’re bound to see a litany of tour buses driving tourists around to show off the glamour of the entertainment industry. Visitors are treated to tales from the movies and TV shows they love under the fitting backdrop of the Hollywood sign.
What are more difficult for the tourists to view are the sets of movies and TV shows actually being filmed in California. The trend of productions and related jobs relocating has only sped up, as California’s entertainment industry increasingly loses out to other states and countries, says a new study from FilmL.A.
According to the report, titled “2013 Feature Film Production Report,” the true story of the California film industry is one where competing states and countries have feasted, leaving the Golden State more famished with each passing year.
“Fifteen years ago, California’s share of the top 25 live-action films was a commanding 64 percent,” the report says. “By 2013, California’s share of the same had fallen to just 8 percent.”
Cities like Vancouver have made heavily incentivized offers to production studios, incentives that dwarf California’s. Even the films California does secure for production in the state aren’t the blockbusters of old. The $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program prevents films with budgets exceeding $75 million from eligibility in the tax credit program.
The film “Battle Los Angeles” wasn’t even filmed in Los Angeles. It was filmed in Louisiana, where it received a 30 percent tax credit and where many productions have landed.
This is an issue that the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation explored in its own 2011 study on the state of entertainment in California; “[The $75 million limit] is a policy which encourages larger budget productions to seek locations where tax incentives are not constrained by budget.”
But new legislation looks to change that. AB1839 would lift the budget cap on feature films eligible to apply for the program, allow all new one-hour television series be eligible to apply for the program and offer a 25 percent credit for TV shows relocating to California in the first year.
The bill has major supporters. The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Union enthusiastically supports AB1839: “When production goes elsewhere, so do the jobs, tax revenue and spending that are critical to the strength of our state’s economy,” the union said in a statement. “In order to once again be competitive, California must put in place a meaningful, expanded credit that will bring back jobs, increase revenue, and support small businesses and vendors all across the state.”
The Los Angeles City Council has also turned its attention to the issue, as Councilman Felipe Fuentes introduced a resolution that encourages city leaders to support the bill.
Stemming the flow of movies and shows out of California isn’t just about keeping the Hollywood sign relevant; it’s about saving middle-class jobs. Every credited dollar comes back to the state and local governments with an additional 13 cents, contributing to an industry supporting 20,000 jobs in the state.
While some argue this might just result in a race to the bottom, it’s clear, if California wants to keep those jobs from relocating, it can’t afford to do business as usual.