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Producers praise tax incentives for film/TV

March 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
California may finally be reining in runaway production. State lawmakers and members of the film industry met in Pasadena Friday to discuss the impact of the state's film tax credits. Hollywood producers are giving the program a thumbs up.

When the action flick "Battle: Los Angeles" hit theaters this month, it marked a losing battle for L.A.'s film industry, because most of the shootouts and explosions did little to heat up the Los Angeles job market.

"Because of tax breaks, L.A. was recreated in the other LA: Louisiana," said Ed Duffy, a film production member of Teamsters Local 399.

It's another example of what is referred to as "runaway production": feature productions leaving California to shoot in states with generous tax incentives.

Blue skies and beautiful backdrops aren't the only factors producers consider when choosing a filming location. In these tough economic times this often boils down to who is offering the best deal.

"Even though in Hollywood we make dreams, we still look to find the least-expensive place to make those dreams as best we can," said independent film producer Larry Thompson.

That's why members of the California film industry met with state lawmakers in Pasadena Friday to praise California's film and television tax credit program.

"If California doesn't have an incentive, we're not even on the table as a location option," said Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission.

The California Film Commission doles out up to $100,000,000 a year to film productions. Forty other states now offer tax breaks and rebates to bring in film and TV productions. New York alone dedicates more than $400,000,000 a year.

Lemisch says since California's program began a year and a half ago, 116 projects have qualified for rebates.

"Those projects are estimated to be spending $2.2 billion in direct spending in the state, and they're hiring approximately 25,000 crew members and about 6,000 actors," said Lemisch.

Members of the entertainment industry say numbers like that are proof California's incentives are working, bringing back jobs.