Steve Michelson is part owner of a catering company that feeds the cast and crew of several Los Angele-based shows. He says that in recent years, business has not been good.
“I have individuals doing jobs that two or three people used to do,” said Michelson. “A company yesterday called me; they have five catering trucks they want to sell me. They want to go out of business.”
Some caterers for the television and film industry are leaving Los Angeles, following productions to other cities.
The president of Film LA, Paul Audley says there has been a dramatic change, particularly in the television industry.
“This year, for example, we know of the 23 new television dramas,” Audley noted. “Twenty-one of them are going out of state and they used to virtually all be filmed here. We had more than 80 percent of television, and now we’re down to about 40 percent.”
Universal Television’s Bela Bajaria says studio executives consider two main factors when deciding where to shoot a film or TV show.
“A big part of it is obviously creatively, that we can really realize what’s on the page. The other equally as important part is actually a tax incentive,” Bajaria explained.
Bajaria says cities outside of Los Angeles started becoming attractive to studios about a decade ago.
“It was about 10 years ago, New Orleans really came out with some first tax credits and a couple of the other states really followed.”
In 2004, New Orleans hosted 16 feature film or TV projects. This year, there are more than 50 productions says Katie Williams, director of Film New Orleans. Williams says state tax incentives have also helped develop the city’s local film industry.
“Ultimately at this point, anything a movie needs to make the project can be found here in this state and specifically in New Orleans, so with that, comes jobs,” Williams said.
The same is true for New York, another state that offers major incentives for the film and television industry.
Douglas Steiner is chairman of Brooklyn-based Steiner Studios, which is expanding because business is good.
“It makes money for the state, it makes money for the city,” noted Steiner. “Mayor Michael Bloomberg makes it easy to shoot in New York, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has made it affordable to shoot in New York, and it employs tens of thousands of people that would otherwise not be working.”
Film LA’s Paul Audley says that although California also offers financial incentives to television and film companies, they are not as generous as other states across the United States.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have enough of that money available to truly compete,” Audley explained.
And it is a global competition with countries in Eastern Europe as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Britain vying for Hollywood’s entertainment industry.