Keeping the California film economy rolling

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

California provides $100 million a year in tax credits for film productions while New York allocates $420 million. (Photo
credit: John Guenther)

There’s a new star in the state and its name is Humboldt County. The famous redwoods will be the backdrop of a new film starring actor Will Smith.

The nine-day production is expected to pump millions of dollars into the local economy.

“They haven’t been able to give me a dollar amount and won’t be able to until June, but just in hotel accommodations for 300 crewmembers, that’s half a million dollars,” said Cassandra Hesseltine, Humboldt County Film Commissioner.

That’s not all! Crewmembers will also be shelling out cash at local restaurants, bars and stores. Area gas stations will see increased business—in fact nearly $10,000 a day as the stars and crew have to drive to the redwoods to shoot.

“For every dollar a production company spends in an area on actual filming, called direct filming, they’ll spend three dollars indirectly, money circulating in the county for a larger impact,” said Hesseltine. “This is called the multiplier effect.”

“The editor of our local paper just wrote an op-ed, asking folks in town about this recent invasion,” said Hesseltine. “The people, here, are very excited about this opportunity, everybody wins. We welcome any invasion that pumps millions of dollars into the local economy.”

This isn’t the first time Humboldt County attracted a major movie–“Return of the Jedi,” “Outbreak,” and “The Majestic” showcase the region, too.

But Hesseltine says California is competing with other states to keep the movie business in the state.

“Unless the script really dictates the film stay in California, production companies will go elsewhere,”  Hesseltine added.

The group responsible for issuing permits for productions in Los Angeles recently reported it saw a jump of 74% year-over-year in the number of local shoots in April. But the movies are mostly lower-budget productions and a fraction of the amount from just 10 years ago.

“We do have incentive programs,” said Hesseltine. “But they’re smaller than what other states offer, we also have limitations.”

Hesseltine says the California Film Commission has been working aggressively with our politicians to get bills passed to keep movies here. That group is now discussing an extension of a five-year package of tax credits which would run until 2018. 

Hesseltine hopes our state and local governments do more to allow California to shine like the star it is.

Shooting for the sci-fi movie, “After Earth,” with director M. Night Shyamalan, will go through May 5. The film is slated to be out in the summer of 2013.


Cheryl Getuiza

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