... Just two of the 23 new fall and midseason shows will be shot in Los Angeles County, as cost-conscious producers seek tax-friendly production havens in New York, North Carolina, Georgia and other states. ...
I had recent occasion to talk to a couple of live-action union reps. They clued me:
"The mood of members is pretty terrible. They're angry. There's just not a lot of high-end work. Features have gone to states with big tax rebates. High end television shows are now doing the same. ..."
"Members can scramble around and get work, but it's work on reality shows. It's shorter-term stuff. They have to work their asses off and the money's not as good, so people are ticked off. ...
As the Times' article points out, when the big-ticket productions go away, workers suffer, suppliers suffer (and go out of business), and the whole movie-making infrastructure slowly implodes.
In Animationland, run-away production has been a sad, sorry fact of life for forty years. Production for animated television shows started departing the early seventies. And bits and pieces of feature production have been outsourced since the eighties.
Just today, a Disney CG artist said to me that he didn't think SCI pre-production for t.v. will stay in Southern California for much longer. "Producers will figure out they can do it India way cheaper," he said.
I'm not completely sure of this. I've watched different slices of animated productions leave and come back to the California southland any number of times. Even t.v. animation isn't always outsourced. Cartoon Network animated a big part of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends was animated in Burbank. Currently Tom and Jerry episodics are being animated in Glendale.
What has kept a lot of animation development -- not to mention animation -- in California is the depth and breadth of the talent pool. As I mentioned to an animator at Disney Feature this afternoon, it's not enough for foreign sub-contractors to be cheap. They have to be high-quality and reliable, too. Because it does an American conglomerate no good to save a million bucks while missing a release date. Far better to spend the extra million and hit the release date.