California needs a new and improved film tax credit program to prevent more productions from leaving the state, the industry's chief lobbyist said Friday.
Speaking at a luncheon in Burbank hosted by the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., Chris Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, called for an expansion of the state's film tax credit program, which allocates $100 million annually but excludes large feature films with budgets greater than $75 million. The program also exempts TV pilots.
"You are well aware film and TV production here in Los Angeles faces another challenge – the growing number of productions moving out of this state and out of the country,'' Dodd said. "Other communities are feverishly developing their own film and television production infrastructure." ...
"I know the studios I represent would prefer, everything else being equal, to make their films and television programs here in California, for many reasons," Dodd added. "Therefore, for starters, the size and number of available tax credits needs to be increased and bigger productions must be allowed to qualify for them. We also need to give long-term productions, particularly television series, the ability to plan further ahead ..."
T.V. animation work went out of state decades ago, but now it's happening to live action in a major way. High-budget live-action features are gone. High-end television series are shooting where tax credits and rebates are plentiful (and that ain't Los Angeles.)
The only work still in Southern California is reality t.v., a scattering of medium-sized movies, and low-budget stuff. So little wonder there's a push to get more tax support from Sacramento. Otherwise the remaining work implodes. Without tax breaks, our fine, entertainment conglomerates will be moving cameras, lights and actors where they get the most mileage for the buck.
Some people call bigger tax subsidies "corporate welfare," but entertainment unions describe the new round of lobbying as "building a jobs program." All depends where you're coming from.