California Congressional Delegation Presses Jerry Brown To Sign TV & Movie Incentives Bill

Jerry Brown Film and TV Tax
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and 34 other members of California’s congressional delegation are urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign legislation that would expand the state’s film and TV incentive program to $400 million in tax credits per year.

The lawmakers who signed the letter to Brown include 34 Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.), whose district covers the desert regions in the eastern part of the state.

“It is imperative that we sensibly expand our program to meet the demand and be nationally competitive,” the lawmakers wrote in an Aug. 13 letter to Brown. “Among the enhancements would be to substantially increase the overall pot allotted, raise the cap that prevents blockbuster films from competing, and allow 1 hour television dramas regardless of distribution outlet to qualify for the credit.”

The complete letter is here.

The legislation, AB 1839, along with providing $400 million per year in credits, would expand eligibility to big budget films and most one-hour dramas. It would extend the program through 2019, and replace a lottery system for awarding tax credits to one where applicants are selected based on their ability to create jobs.

The goal of the letter is to show Brown that the legislation has significant support among the 53-member congressional delegation. He has not said whether he would sign the legislation.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not sign the letter along with other Republicans except Cook. Among the Democrats whose names do not appear are Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Pelosi and Becerra each sent their own letters in support of the legislation.

On Wednesday, union and studio representatives are scheduled to appear in Sacramento at an event at the state capitol, where crews will simulate the production of scenes from “Scandal.” Among those scheduled at the event are actors Carl Weathers and Ron Perlman, as well as the crew of the ABC Family series “Pretty Little Liars.”

Update: Pelosi and Becerra each sent their own letters in support.

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  1. Rena Moretti says:

    Shel:

    I see that you keep replacing real arguments with name calling when you run out.

    Quite sad for you.

    As for TV shows being brilliant, I don’t know what TV shows you’re watching, but there’s a reason ratings are crashing and burning: most current TV shows are atrociously bad, with bad directing, bad acting, bad writing… well, you get the picture (shaking of course because shaking the picture and playing with the zoom is how we tell it’s great directing today..) :( As for the movies, I don’t see how anyone with any taste for filmmaking can call them “good” (or even mediocre) but since you’re one of the people making them, it’s not surprising you want to keep the gravy train going.

    I just don’t want my money to pay you to continue making bad films. It’s just unfair for you to want me to pay for your salary.

    What does it matter how much I pay? What does it matter what anyone pays. If you are rich and want to take your money and donate it to the Studios so they can keep a bad TV show here, please go ahead.

    Why use the unfettered power of the government to force people who don’t care about it to pay for your favorite cause when there will be zero benefit to the State?

    Finally, read what I wrote and try not to deform it. I said the studios didn’t care about the crews until recently when they’re trying to wrest more money from the taxpayers.

    They’re using you as their pawn, and you’re falling for it (but then again you’ll get a few of my Dollars in your pocket so it’s all good right?) but studios didn’t care five years ago when they were shooting elsewhere. They only case because the money is drying up and they still can’t make a hit film (if you trust the box-office “estimates” I have a bridge for sale…)

    But yeah “you the filmmakers” are so “concerned” that you can’t wait to spend my (and the other taxpayers) money.

    Sorry, but I don’t like to like your grubby hand in my pocket… :(

    • shel greb says:

      Rena,

      You already pay my salary. Thank you very much. I actually work on national television commercials, print ads, and the occasional network promo and not one cent from this bill will ever go in my pocket. I’m laughing hysterically because you already pay my salary. Anything branded you buy. I help sell it and I love working in film. I don’t work on long form by choice. Commercials pay the best. Keep buying things I love creating big glossy sets to sell things.

      Pawn I am not. Artist for hire I am.

      What name calling are you referring to exactly?

      You ask what I watch? Everything. AND I LOVE what I am seeing on screen. I think there are more choices than ever. American Hustle, All is Lost, House of Cards, Ray Donovan, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad. If you think these are crap. I challenge you to jump in and make something yourself.

      Or you can just keep crying and whining about subsidizing an industry that invests millions of dollars into the crappy California economy.

      I look out my window in my choice neighborhood and I don’t mind the 20 or so production vehicles, large trucks, and hundred or so crew working long days filming on my street. It’s still exciting for us week after week to have crews shoot on our lovely street. Have you ever even been on a film set Rena? Do you have any idea what we do? I dare you to? Let me know if you are actually interested in really understanding the process of how movies are really made and who the people are behind them. Or do you just want attention by going on Variety and blasting filmmakers?

      • Rena Moretti says:

        On a side note, yes I do think they’re all crap, but much more relevant to my point, audiences don’t like them. All those shows have bad ratings (except Breaking Bad’s last season which got a rather unique huge campaign to artificially get decent, and then quickly declining, numbers or a few last episodes).

        You of course have mentioned two Netflix shows which we’ll never know for certain how poorly they did (and which Netflix – the most promotional company in the Universe – will of course say were hits but I certainly won’t buy it until I see credible numbers as all similar shows covered by Nielsen do very poorly).

        The “challenge” you make is pointless and is a straw man argument (again the kind you make when you run out of real ones) as my point was never that I could do better, just like my point when I go to a bad restaurant is not that I’d be a better restaurateur, just that I won’t go again and when the restaurant closes I’ll be happy they didn’t get my money through taxes and government using its coercive force to fore me to give it to them.

      • Rena Moretti says:

        Shel:

        Really sad that you are now pretending you didn’t do any name calling. Re-read what you wrote… And you’ll see that what you wrote if your latest response is also full of name-calling.

        You do however make an interesting point about being paid through ads, ticket sales and such and strangely it’s the same point I am making:

        If the movies and TV shows were good, you wouldn’t need to go around asking for taxpayer money.

        You see, the studios are going around begging for our hard-earned cash because we’re not spending it at the theater anymore and are watching their TV shows in ever smaller numbers.

        Whether I understand the process of making movies or not is immaterial. I don’t need to understand all that is going on in a car factory to understand that beyond my decision to buy or not a car, it is unfair of the government to force me to pay for the car maker’s labor costs. Same thing for sports teams (at least L.A. didn’t give millions of taxpayer money to a rich NFL owner so he can pay millions to his players).

        I don’t blast filmmakers in general.

        I blast BAD filmmakers who make crappy movies and crappy TV shows that don’t make enough money so that the industry is no longer self-sufficient, and I blast filmmakers who come hat in hand telling me that giving them my hard-earned cash and then lie that it will be good for the economy.

        I blast filmmakers who are so full of themselves, they think the economy revolves around them and that it can only be good for other people to hand over money to them to make films they don’t want to see and TV shows they won’t watch even for free.

        In other words, I don’t want my money to help make another season of New Girl (to name but one of the worst examples) If it can’t find a big enough audience (and its audience is laughably small) then let it die. It won’t be missed.

        Sorry, but that’s government-endorsed extortion and the fact it goes on every day around the world does not make it fair.

  2. Raul Riveros says:

    Rena Moretti.

    You have zero idea of what this tax credit does. You think it’s so that producers can save $$$? You think the film industry left LA because of bad products? Please put down your smartphone because it obviously does not belong in your hand.

    I will tell you who will benefit from this tax break…..

    The people that work at restaurants/bars across the street from studios. The people that work at all the vendors associated with movies. I know you are clueless, but let me explain…. LOCAL CAMERA RENTAL HOUSES, LOCAL CATERING KITCHENS, LOCAL PROP HOUSES, LOCAL TRANSPORTATION RENTALS, LOCAL LIGHTING COMPANIES, LOCAL DAY CARE FACILITIES, LOCAL COFFEE HOUSES, LOCAL MAKEUP SHOPS, LOCAL POLICE OFFICERS, LOCAL REAL ESTATE, LOCAL LOCATION SERVICES, LOCAL TELECOMMUNICATION COMPANIES, LOCAL OFFICE RENTALS, LOCAL CAR DEALERSHIPS, LOCAL STUDIO EMPLOYEES, LOCAL CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES…..
    These are just the ones of the top of my head. If you think that these tax credits are to help the producers, than you are unequivocaly flat out WRONG! Let me point out that the common denominator in the above is tge word LOCAL. There is not one aspect of this bill that would not benefit California as a whole.

    Please leave the state immediately…you are the problem.

    • Rena Moretti says:

      The fact remains that the studios have suddenly discovered the plight of the L.A. crews at the exact same time other states are cutting off the subsidy spigot…

      What other conclusion can one draw of that fact? That studio executives suddenly discovered the problem they themselves created?

      I realize you are quite impatient for my and other taxpayers’ money to flow to your pocket (I assume that’s why you sound so angry at reading my other posts), but saying that subsidies benefit the economy is patently wrong and the only “studies” that say they do are ordered by people who benefit from them (and the politicians who get their campaign contributions).

      You may be happy when you get the taxpayers’ money in your pocket, but it doesn’t make it good economic policy for the State.

      It also doesn’t make it fair for the taxpayers of California.

      • shel greb says:

        Geez Rena,

        What cave did you crawl out of? Suddenly discover the plight? This is an issue that has been at the hearts of the film community for well over a decade. It was one of the reasons we the filmmakers pledged to support Mr. Arnold for Governor. The more comments you make the more you reveal that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

        How much do you actually pay in taxes? I can collectively say we have some of the biggest taxpayers in the state paying a large sum of these taxes you so speak of. It’s not the taxpayers money separate from us filmmakers it’s our money too. And I pay more than my fair share to subsidize everyone else.

        Nothing more certain than death or taxes. Get over it.

        Poor quality entertainment? TV series are better than ever. What in the world are you talking about? What kind of movies are you watching?

        This is getting fun now.

  3. shel greb says:

    Rena, I’m confused. If you care so little about the film and entertainment industry? Why in the heck are you reading Variety?

  4. Rena Moretti says:

    Shel: I frankly had trouble getting what your point was (totally confused about your spending McDonald’s money while working on an indie movie), but I think you meant meant to explain that what you spend has ripple effects in the economy and thus giving you our money is actally good for us.

    Unfortunately, as many countries/localities have found out, this type of economic analysis (often referred to as the Keynesian multiplier) is inherently flawed. You see, everything is in everything and vice versa in the economy. You can make a learned demonstration that if I give you a Dollar it will ceaselessly echo in the economy. It’s true, but you haven’t taken into account where the dollar comes from.

    When you take away the Dollar from other people, it’s money THEY won’t get to spend and won’t have an echo in the economy.

    At best it’s a zero-sum game. At worst (and I think it is the sad reality) because of the cost of administering the program, the multiplier is actually less than one.

    As for “loving California”, I don’t think wanting me to give you money so you won’t have to move to get a job is what makes California great. On the other hand, if you’d like to send me a check, then California will certainly be great again! ;)

  5. Not too long ago you could walk through any HW studio and see hundreds of hardworking folks doing their business of makling movies. Today the majors are mere rental houses and look like ghost towns. Any thing that Brown can do to bring this business back to LA needs to happen. ‘Git er done,’ Jerry.

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Lewis, think of the logic of your argument. Hollywood was happily making tons of money, making tons of people work without taxpayer handouts, but now it can’t survive without taxpayers paying its labor costs…

      It’s the bad movie that have turned people away from theaters (and more importantly video stores, brick or online) that have created that situation.

      Subsidizing more bad product is not the solution.

    • Shel Greb says:

      Thank You! For your support. My husband and I have worked tirelessly educating our neighbors who simply don’t understand what these jobs mean for our economy. I am not an opponent of big business. The studio system is not what it once was. They pay well and attempt to provide quality entertainment for the masses. It’s simple math. A certain amount is greenlit per project. If they can’t afford to shoot in California they are forced to shoot elsewhere because other states identify the money that will be spent. California is set up for movies. In other states they have to build major studios, train crew, travel talent to accommodate large productions. It doesn’t make financial sense. But if the work keeps going to states like NY and Louisiana the returns will pay off.

      I’m willing to fight for my career and the jobs of my loyal crew and employers to stay here and work where they have made a life. Not a single California based producer prefers leaving their loved ones for months on end to shoot in a remote location with crew and vendors you don’t know or trust. That takes years to build. The studio heads are not wrong for taking the work elsewhere if it makes sense financially. They are not evil. They are individuals who need to keep themselves making money not losing it.

      Sony spends one million dollars a year to keep its property house open. The revenue sadly barely covers the salaries and operational expenses because a majority of productions are forced to shoot elsewhere. They downsized and it still is a struggle to keep in the black. Their prices are more than reasonable and they support students and non profits who need their help. It is a beautiful place full of history. The folks that work there are the sweetest and most kind individuals. They have worked their most of their adult lives and many are nearing or past retirement but they stay because they love the work. So tell me more stories about evil studios screwing over crew to take a handout from our taxpayers.

      • Rena Moretti says:

        You got it backwards Shel. The money the studios have to spend is based on their past successes. The studios give us juked-up numbers to pretend everything they touch is gold, but in reality, Box-office has been at best stagnant (not a surprise it has since 1946 – theatrical exhibition is in a secular decline caused by TV, video, gaming, the internet etc…)

        The video business, once the cash cow of the studios is dying from a lack of good product and TV ratings are headed ever downwards.

        The solution? Ask for money from States and when other states catch on it’s a waste of money, ask California to “save the jobs” of the people they didn’t care about two short years ago…

        I am with you that there’s a great history in Hollywood, but what is destroying it is the bad movies and TV shows that are currently made.

        Asking for taxpayer money to make more bad movies and bad TV shows is just ludicrous.

        And also quite unfair.

  6. DonnieK says:

    Pelosi did not sign on because she did a separate letter.

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Just in case you had any doubt this was economic nonsense, an endorsement from Ms. Economic Illiteracy herself… :(

  7. Margie says:

    Please sign this bill.. We have lost areospace and major Many major corporations have left California… We are the Original Tinseltown… We need to keep the filming to this industry .. We already have so many shows filmed in so many other states as well as foreign Countries because of our lack of tax breaks… Lets not have our Hollywood sign change to Say bankrupt…

  8. Governor Brown, Please sign the entertainmant bill as it will provide for billions of dollars to be spent in California making movies and TV Shows.

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Sorry but no to that! Corporate handouts don’t help the economy. If they did, we’d be swimming in economic growth instead of debt.

      What’s really disappointing is our congressional delegation is strenuously arguing for more profligacy…

      I guess we got the Representatives we deserve and we don’t deserve a lot… :(

  9. This would be great, if it works. Now that most of the big rental houses are either out of business, or have moved their equipment out of country, let alone state……What the Governor needed to do was get ALL the players online and discuss the issues and get them resolved what EIGHT years ago when the whole business went under……………I would ask it be done in memory of the crews who have lost their homes, families, businesses, and many their lives. One of our friends lost his job, lost his family, his wife just could not understand THERE IS NO WORK, and his car, and while taking the bus to try and work a little pittance job, he had a heart attack and died………..RIP.

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Sounds awful, but I don’t see why the California taxpayers should pay for movie crews’ jobs…

      Of course, the studios that are now so concerned about the crew’s trouble couldn’t have cared less when the taxpayer money was flowing from other states. Now that some of those states have realized handing money over to Hollywood didn’t help their economy, the studios are all heart so they can get California taxpayer money to pay for their labor costs…

      Please…

      • shel greb says:

        Excuse me but what do you do? You think the money is my own? It’s the money small production companies are given to shoot here in California by clients like Sears, Kmart, Ford, that I spend. I buy lunches for my crew at local restaurants. I pay for fuel for my big trucks. I make a pittance of what I spend. I buy locally and hire and work alongside so many crew that has spent most of their lives furthering their education and knowledge of their craft. Sadly these businesses pass on the higher costs to me. I support just about every type of business there is as the head of the Art Department. I’d be shocked to learn you work or earn your money somewhere I don’t contribute to that type of business. Need me to continue. furniture stores, office supplies, car rentals, sign shops, artists, painters, carpenters, hardware stores, department stores, beauty supply, aerospace, travel, construction vehicles, medical supply, hotels,
        parking lots, meters, tolls, and every single thing you see on screen us spent by me to work here.

        How many more types of businesses do I need to name? Not including what I contribute back into my own personal expenses. Education, medical, groceries, property taxes, to name a few.

        I’m highly motivated, skilled, and employable. And yes, I am flown all over to spend money in other states like New York. WHAT A LOSS! One project NBC 386,000 spent in NYC in one week by me on one job. Do the math. 100 workers displaced.

        Businesses cannot afford to stay open if I don’t spend money doing my job.

        EVERY single person I spoke with in our assembly face to face got my point. I don’t want to spend months away from my family because we can’t keep an industry that provides good jobs to skilled workers.

        Many of my coworkers have had to leave the State. How can they afford to stay when there is no work and 10 people fighting for every job. I’m competing against people who never worked before in commercials because there are no series or movies being shot here.

        I love California. It’s my home. I’ve never gotten any kind of help from anyone. IF this bill doesn’t get signed California will feel its effects more and more. Why not limit all the money we give away to people who don’t work? Who work the system. I see the looks on peoples faces. They want to work more than anything. Every job gone is a family hurting. I love my young son. My husband and I work our hearts away with hopes he will someday do anything but follow our paths. It’s heartbreaking,

      • Rena Moretti says:

        I am referring to the $400 million discussed in the article.

        It’s a handout to the Big Studios so they can pay your salary.

        So yes, you are asking me (and the other Californians who won’t benefit from this handout) to pay for your salary.

        Given the State hasn’t had the wonderful idea of making you pay for mine, I’d rather not…

        I agree with you that taxes and regulations on all businesses are way too onerous in California, but I am not in favor of our elected officials selecting the “right” industries at the expense of the rest of the economy.

        You also make my point that this is taking from taxpayers to give to the rich is you have hundreds of thousands to spend. I don’t, and yet I was made to pay increased sales taxes (just to take the latest tax increase) to “pay for the deficit” and now this money that was taken from my pocket is going to flow to yours.

        I find that highly unfair.

        Even if you admit for the sake of argument the (false) idea that this is a tax credit and thus not cash handed over (in reality there is no difference as the cash you’re not paying will have to paid by the rest of the taxpayers), why should other industries pay more because they’re not as connected? Why should small companies who make no profits yet have to pay minimum taxes so the studios don’t have to pay so much for their labor costs?

        Any way you look at it, this is State cronyism and highly unfair.

        But don’t worry, there was never any doubt Jerry Brown would sign it as he will then claim he “saved jobs” (a false claim that the press will of course echo mindlessly) and be re-elected by the same people complaining about the economy.

      • shel greb says:

        SORRY. You aren’t paying for my job. I spend money here in California. Hundreds of thousands every year. I’m just one below the line worker who pays way too much of my income to ridiculous taxes on businesses in California. These are passed on to me who spends the money and hires the crew. What handout are you referring to?

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