Film tax credit re-upped as California jobs in TV flee state

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

Filming of “NCIS” at the beach in Venice, CA. (Photo credit: Bill Wheatley via Flickr)

This piece was originally pubilshed on the California Economic Summit blog

From Sacramento, a “Hooray for Hollywood!” could be heard today. The state’s film and tax credit was just extended another two years, thanks a recent vote on a bill by the California Assembly. Although this is great news for the film industry and the California economy, this story doesn’t necessarily have a Hollywood movie ending.

With a 70-4 vote, it appears a big majority of the state Assembly are making sure California remains competitive with other states trying to get a piece of the production pie.

The bill extends funding for the program for two more years. California sets aside $100 million annually towards tax credits, which are handed out by lottery because of the limited funds. Funding was set to expire next year. The film industry was looking for a five year extension. 

Now the bad news: Out of 23 new, one-hour shows from the five major networks, only two are filming in Los Angeles County. Other more cost conscious producers moved production to tax friendlier states like New York, North Carolina and Georgia.

According to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, one 22-episode-a-year network series has a budget of $60 million and generates 840 direct and indirect jobs.

Here are more downer numbers:

  • Fewer than 10% of new network dramas, this season, are based in L.A.
  • Down from 50% in 2010
  • Down 80% in 2005

“The loss of hourlong dramas is very significant,” Kevin Klowden, director of the California Center at the Milken Institute told the L.A. Times. “This is the heart of television production. If this continues, you’re going to see a direct impact on the employment base of Los Angeles.”

Labor unions including the Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA, say the recent vote by the state Assembly is a step in the right direction.

The vote ensures, “that the entertainment industry can continue to be an integral part of California’s economy,” the coalition of unions said in a statement. 

“Without the extension, the State of California will have no chance of competing with more than 40 states and many foreign countries that offer generous incentive programs to retain and attract qualified motion pictures and television programs, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of middle class jobs and all the ancillary economic benefits that a thriving entertainment industry brings to the economy.”

The state Senate will hold its first committee hearing on a similar bill next week.


Cheryl Getuiza

All stories by: Cheryl Getuiza