Danny DeVito, Matthew Modine, Sharon Lawrence Tout Filming in California

Danny DeVito, Matthew Modine, Sharon Lawrence

Danny DeVito, Matthew Modine and Sharon Lawrence lent their star power Saturday to the campaign to expand California’s film-TV production tax credit program.

“We can’t sit back and let the industry go elsewhere,” said DeVito in a keynote address at the California Locations Conference at the Hollywood Museum. “California is where we taught the world to do this. What’s important is that it’s not just the film business, it’s the people working in the business.”

The trio urged the 150 attendees to push state legislators to approve Assembly Bill 1839, which cleared its first State Senate committee on Wednesday. The bill would broaden the scope of the state’s incentives — currently at $100 million annually, which lag those in Georgia, Louisiana and New York.

DeVito, a former member of the California Film Commission, noted that when he arrived in California in the 1970s, his first series “Taxi” and then-spouse Rhea Perlman’s “Cheers” were both shot in Hollywood despite being set elsewhere. And he pointed out that his current sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is shot on the Fox lot in Los Angeles.

Lawrence led a panel discussion at the event on the values of shooting in California such as crew experience and access to equipment. Several producers pointed out that film backers now routinely demand that incentives be a part of the financing package.

“Our investors are addicted to soft money,” noted Bonnie Curtis. “So on a $5 million production, they want $1 million of that to be incentives.”

Curtis added that California-based producers simply have to find a way to resist shooting elsewhere, adding, “We have to not be fear-based and just not go.”

Modine noted that he’s making his directorial debut in California with “The Rocking Horsemen” and elicited major laughs from the crowd by quipping that Vancouver was planning to host the Oscars and that Louisiana had bought the Hollywood sign.

Los Angeles City Council member Felipe Fuentes, who authored the legislation funding the current program while an Assemblyman, offered an upbeat assessment of the prospects for AB 1839’s enactment by asserting that the years of campaigning for a bigger program appear to be paying off.

“$100 million a year isn’t enough for California,” he added.

The event was presented by the California Film Commission and the Film Liaisons in California Statewide.


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  1. Danny Derakhshan says:

    I admire what these people are trying to do.
    Here’s my personal opinion: I didn’t move to California to make movies because I couldn’t do it anywhere else. I moved to California to make movies because the weather is great and I enjoy the warm weather all year-round. Movies can be made anywhere for cheap today and because so, an over-saturation is in the market.
    The major studios do need our help. But not in the way they think they need. They moved to California for independence and now they hold on here for the largest profit. When was the last time any major company decided they wanted to cap out a certain dollar amount of profit but retain the majority of fans? Never. This is Capitalism. Old horses die. You either change or die a slow death.

  2. Richard Thomas says:

    Hey Ken!!!
    Hope you can top this feeble attempt.
    Sometimes the attempt or effort to win only shines a brighter light on the problem.
    A lot like the laws of publicity, huh.

  3. M says:

    “California is where we taught the world to do this. What’s important is that it’s not just the film business, it’s the people working in the business.”

    Actually that would be New York and New Jersey and Paris. Here’s a history lesson, the film industry began in the East Coast a century ago but Edison’s greed and the relatively primitive filming equipment of the day forced filmmakers to sunny Southern California where the year round sunny weather was perfect for filming and yes they built up a good industry but the world has learned well since then Danny and California is not as relevant as it once was. Movies and TV shows can be made anywhere and everywhere. Why film a show set in New York on some back lot in Los Angeles when you can make it in the real city for a lot less? But speaking of that what about the other industries that left California for greener pastures what is being done to bring those back? The world is changing and it seems California does not want to change with it. Hollywood is about business these days not about new and innovative ideas, it’s always a reboot, a re imagining, a retelling nothing original and they will suffer for it far from the Hollywood of the Golden Age such a shame.

  4. I really have mixed feelings about about this matter. The birth place of movies was Paris and New York. The exhibitors decided to take the business out west and created Hollywoodland. At the same time created an industry. I can understand people concerned about their positions working there, but similar to many other industries we built factories through out the Country. Yes the Automotive Industry is based in Detroit, but cars and trucks today are built in many states. Most electronics are farmed out overseas and many other products are also. With technology today we can make a film just about anywhere the location calls for. These new innovations have created a new breed of filmmakers. The Independent films today offer better story telling and beats many things the studio system is putting out. Their basic mode of operation is rehash owned property, follow the young dollar and the guessing game played by the accountants and studio heads. Back when studio heads had creative people working for them, Hollywood was KIng.Today, it’s too much a business than creating and nurturing new talent. That’s where Hollywood should focus their development.

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