Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Getting While It's Good

Georgia has aggressive movie and television tax incentives.

Therefore ...

... IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 479 in Atlanta may be the fastest-growing union in the U.S. In 2003, it had only 191 members; six years later, after the state’s 2008 tax incentives took effect, the local’s membership doubled in consecutive years, doubled again two years later, then nearly doubled again two years after that. It’s now the largest IATSE local outside of Los Angeles and New York. ...

Besides the tax incentives, producers who shoot in Georgia also get discounts on wages. Union films shot in LA and New York are covered by IATSE’s basic contract; films shot elsewhere are covered by IATSE’s cheaper Area Standards Agreement, which gives producers yet another incentive to flee California. ...

Like Local 479, Local 839 has been growing, only the Animation Guild doesn't have tax incentives or lower wages to help it along. California, bless its short-sighted heart, sees no reason to expand the entertainment tax bills now under legislative consideration for cartoonland's benefit. That's because lots of animated projects still remain in the Golden State, and if it ain't broke (yada, yada) ...

So what's the problem?

Here it is in a nutshell: Even though lots of pre-production work for television animation can be found in L.A., even though several theatrical animated features haven't (yet) vamoosed to someplace else, a majority of animation employment occurs outside California. Sony Imageworks has moved its animation crew to Vancouver, and Mercury Filmworks in Ottawa has shows from different Hollywood cartoon studios crowding against its groaning rafters.

Added to which, the nuts-and-bolts production work for most American t.v. cartoons is done on other continents.

If it weren't for the talent pool in L.A., and the cold fact that building a work-force of experienced artists is strenuous and time-consuming, even more work would be elsewhere. Los Angeles animation is growing only because global animation is exploding. California animators have today a smaller piece of the total pie than they did ten years ago; it's only because that pie is expanding at such a rapid pace that the guild now has 3,354 writers, artists and technicians working under its jurisdiction.

Hell, if we had the tax incentives Georgia or Vancouver had, our numbers would be 6,000. And growing.


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