L.A. County seeks tax incentives for entertainment industry

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(Photo credit: FilmLA)

(Photo credit: FilmLA)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Board of Supervisors agreed today to push for stronger tax incentives to promote film and television production in Southern California.
“In the last decade, Southern California has lost more than $3 billion in entertainment production wages,” said Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who recommended sending a letter to state officials, with copies to the 88 mayors and city managers in Los Angeles County.
An industry spokesman painted a grim picture.
“We’ve been talking for years about runaway and ranaway production,” said FilmL.A. Inc. President Paul Audley. “We used to be 65-plus percent of major features … now (it’s) 8 percent.”
Overall, feature filming in the region has dropped 50 percent from its peak in 1996 and the production of television documentaries is down 39 percent from its high in 2008, according to Antonovich.
The migration of production to Georgia, New York, Louisiana, Canada and other jurisdictions offering attractive tax subsidies to woo filmmakers affects lots of related businesses, like lumber yards and prop houses, Audley said.
Georgia’s 20 percent tax credit led to a three-fold increase in that state’s share of top-grossing movies, according to Antonovich. Louisiana’s tax incentives added 6,145 film production jobs.
Audley pointed to a convention to be hosted this weekend in Century City by the Association of Film Commissioners International, where film commissioners from 38 different countries and locations across the U.S. will reach out to grab a share of upcoming productions. He dubbed it “The Poacher’s Conference.”
Assembly Bill 1839 — approved by a legislative committee today — would expand the range of films eligible to apply for an existing 20-25 percent state tax credit package.
It also would open the credits to television pilot production and include costs related to music scoring and editing. It would eliminate a $100 million annual cap on aggregate credits, but does not call for a specific total to be spent to make sure that California gets a competitive share of film and television production.
Applauding the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee’s 7-0 vote to move the bill forward, one of its sponsors looked back at another industry loss.
“I remember when our communities lost all the good aerospace jobs,” Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, said. “Losing major employers really harms local families and our state economy. We can’t afford to let any more jobs abandon our state.”
The bill, also known as the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act of 2014, will now move to the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation and, if passed there, to the Committee on Appropriations.
The Board of Supervisor’s vote was unanimous in support of sending a five-signature letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature in support of such measures.

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