Lawmakers Call on Hollywood to Refine Message in Push for Production Tax Credits

Lawmakers Call on Hollywood Refine Message

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and his “film czar,” Tom Sherak, gave what amounted to pep talk to an audience of entertainment industry labor officials and Hollywood small business executives pressing lawmakers to do more to stem production flight from the city.

“We’re going to go up to Sacramento and storm that place like we never have before,” Garcetti told the crowd gathered at the Loews Hollywood Hotel for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s State of the Industry Conference on Tuesday. Garcetti said that what was at stake was the capturing of employment from the “second incarnation of this industry.”

Sherak, recently appointed by Garcetti as his director of the office of film and television, told the crowd that there is momentum to “reverse” the trend of production leaving to other states. He officially started his job at City Hall last week.

“Someone once said, ‘We have awoken a sleeping giant.’ That is what this mayor has done.”

Garcetti said that he is focused on cutting City Hall red tape and lobbying Sacramento, but also that they would be launching a campaign of “educating the populace” on the benefits of production in their neighborhood. That is in response to complaints from producers that they do location shoots only to face complaints from neighbors that they are creating too much noise or blocking traffic, even when they have permits to do so.

But State Sen. Kevin de Leon called in the industry to better makes its case for additional tax credit money, saying that the industry “hasn’t done a good enough job in telling a narrative” about what impact the credits have on middle class employment.

“We have to crank up and recalibrate the message,” he said, adding that it was “really incumbent” on industry leaders to “tell a compelling story that persuades policymakers.”

De Leon and Assemblyman Mike Gatto are working on legislation to expand the program. One of the challenges, de Leon noted, is how to expand the credit to include movies with budgets greater than $75 million. He also said that they are trying to address complaints that the current lottery system for awarding credits makes it hard for producers to plan their productions well into the future.

The challenge is to create a program that is still fair to all who apply, he suggested.

“We don’t want to pick winners and we don’t want to pick losers,” he said.

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  1. Engineer's RIG says:

    I don’t think these guys get it. Its more than just tax incentives, its unions, plenty of red tape, expensive locals, high taxes. They only have themselves to blame for this.

    Here’s a history lesson the film and TV industry did not begin in California oh yeah they built it up and they’ve also squandered it, perverted it. The American TV and Film industry began in New York and New Jersey over a century ago. However, the relatively poor quality of early recording media and lighting systems meant that films had to be shot in sunlit glass studios. In turn, the weather typical of the northeast states frequently hampered production. Eventually, a trend developed towards using the west and midwest United States as ideal locations for shooting. Los Angeles, California during the early 1910s was an advantageous location for filmmakers. It had very clear, dry weather that “permitted outdoor filming for much of the year. In addition, southern California offered a variety of landscapes, including ocean, desert, mountain, forest, and hillside”

    That’s the irony, runaway production from the East Coast put LA on the map, a hundred years ago no one had even heard of Los Angeles, it was just some town in the Pacific Coast. But those days are gone. Today the ability to film in natural light, without affecting the quality of the footage.

    A lot of talented people who made a good living for years are now struggling to make ends meet and the change has been particularly rapid. Blame the unions, blame the studios, blame the tax breaks in short, blame globalization finally catching up with an old-fashioned industry structure. Whatever the case, I can’t see how there’s going to be any turning back, but the region is slowly adapting. But the days of LA dominated TV and Film production are long gone.

    Besides many directors want a change of scenery, LA cannot offer that anymore. They want to film exteriors not on some back lot and sound studio in LA.

  2. Robbie Goldstein says:

    The look of LA compared to Chicago New York even Pittsburg is not up for comparison. Those cities lend themselves much better to exterior shooting then LA. That is reality.. Construct a tax incentive that works with those exteriors but really gives the producer an incentive to do interiors here. Get something out of their incentives to leave. But dont hold back on all out get the big budget film. Maybe it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. But according to the idiot at paramount they don’t even consider Los Angeles or California.. Well an appropriate tax incentive cobbled together with new out of the box thinking could. It is not just the money at this point.. It is out of country directors looking at LA then seeing other cities we lose. New Orleans for New York.. Please that doesn’t come close.. But it is done.. Exterior New York Interior Los Angeles and not Louisiana.. Something needs to be done about about getting information on projects before a producer listens to the studio and they say New Orleans. California needs to be able to make their pitch. That is why they need not just more money but someone who is financially savvy to be able to say we can do this.. But not that. to make you stay here. It needs flexibility with oversight. That is why Tom Sherak is there.

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