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Riordan to cut taxes, red tape

Web site for location shooting in works

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan promised to help keep film production in L.A. through an easier permit process and tax incentives for production companies, especially those producing pics budgeted at under $11 million, in his keynote address at the American Film Market on Monday.

Working together with the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., Riordan said he has a tax reform bill in the works that aims to “reduce taxes for indie pics with budgets under $11 million.” Tax rates would be higher for those with higher budgets.

As part of the proposal, the number of categories productions would be taxed for would drop from 64 to eight.

Riordan said the city is also working with L.A. neighborhoods to accept more film productions and simplify the permit application process.

Declaring that Los Angeles is “rapidly headed toward becoming the capital of the 21st century,” Riordan also confirmed that the city has secured the Democratic National Convention in 2000 and touted Disney’s new music hall and the Staples Center, both set to open soon.

In all, 6,000 companies in the Los Angeles area produce films, Riordan said, of which about 80% have 15 or fewer employees.

A new Web site promoting location shooting in L.A. will also launch in the coming months, Riordan said, to “provide information on any location in L.A., as well as how to apply for permits for certain productions.”

While the current shortcomings of tax incentives are an issue, audience members at the address also blamed poor relationships with unions.

Riordan said he hopes union officials will attend next year’s market. “I always say, ‘know your enemies and make ’em your friends,’ ” he said.

Additionally, Riordan heralded changes affecting the entertainment industry since he became mayor, saying that movie production in California has gone up 80% since he took office.

Addressing the roomful of AFM attendants, Riordan also quipped, “I wrote a script and have 500 copies outside.” One indie producer jokingly offered to read it.

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