ATAS runs runaway campaign

Production bill would provide tax credits for five years

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has launched a letter-writing campaign in support of pending California legislation to put the brakes on runaway production.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 2747, would provide wage-based tax credits for five years starting in 2004 at an estimated loss to taxpayers of $650 million in uncollected revenue. The California State Assembly backed AB 2747 in May, and the Senate committee hearing on the bill is set for Aug. 7.

AB 2747 creates a 15% wage-based tax credit for the first $25,000 paid to each employee involved in production of California-based films shot starting in 2004 and with budgets between $200,000 and $10 million. Gov. Gray Davis first suggested the bill in January amid strong support from Hollywood unions and trade groups. He designated 2004 as the start date in order to allow the state to recover from its current budget deficit.

Backers believe such credits can provide a significant lure to filmmakers to counteract higher costs of shooting in the U.S. and extensive incentives from foreign governments, but a Senate committee consultant has questioned whether the credits will have a significant impact since they will go to producers who are already likely to shoot in California.

Mobilizing Acad members

ATAS announced Wednesday that its 54 peer group governors are mobilizing all 11,000 Academy members to generate support among California legislators.

“People who work in our industry here in California and other places in America have lost their jobs while the television business and other vested industries have lost billions of dollars to runaway production,” said ATAS vice chairman Dick Askin.

“In order to reverse this trend, it is key to pass AB 2747 and create financial incentives to produce in California, which is the first step in not only bringing production work back to our state but also keeping it here, as well as the rest of the country,” he said.

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