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Hollywood asks California to cut taxes — for the film industry

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Breanna Deutsch Contributor
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You know things are bad when Hollywood liberals are asking California for a tax break.

Film Works, an entertainment-industry advocate organization, recently launched an online petition asking California’s film and TV enthusiasts to lobby lawmakers to create greater incentives for production to stay within state borders.

While operating costs in California have grown more expensive over the past decade, other states and countries have established film tax credits in an effort to bring production to their territory.

If California does not pass similar legislation, Film Works warns, the state will lose hold of one of its most iconic industries.

“We are now greatly concerned that the state’s status as the epicenter for motion picture production is at risk,” the petition reads.

“If policymakers fail to make our state more competitive, the film industry in California will face the same fate as other industries, including aerospace, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of jobs permanently leaving California for other states.”

“It’s time for California to wake up,” reads one of the organization’s blog posts.

The industry’s decline in the Golden State has been difficult for individuals working in the entertainment industry to ignore.

From 2005 to 2013, California’s share of the one-hour TV series market declined from 64 percent to 28 percent, resulting in the loss of an estimated 8,500 jobs, the Film Works petition notes.

According to a report conducted by the San Francisco Film Commission, these job losses not only impact those who were formerly employed, but take a negative toll on the economy as a whole. The study found that every job lost in the film industry results in a loss of $112,000 in spending in the local economy.

And in the past 15 years, feature-film production in Los Angeles alone has declined almost 60 percent.

In an attempt to curve the drop in production, California passed a $100 million film tax incentive in 2009, but it was not enough to keep producers within state borders.

A growing list of states, including Georgia, Louisiana and New York, have established tax incentives that far exceed those passed in California.

These business-friendly policies have added millions to states’ economies. Louisiana is just one example of this phenomenon. The year before it enacted its tax credit (2002), production spending in Louisiana was only $3.5 million. By 2010, that figure had jumped to $674 million, making for a 19,000-percent increase.

Many leading businesses and organizations involved in the entertainment industry recognize how California’s tax-heavy policies are threatening the survival of the film industry and have thus aligned themselves with Film Works, demanding that California Gov. Jerry Brown sign into law legislation that will re-energize one of the state’s major cash industries.

Among many others, the petition’s supporters include Warner Bros, FilmLA, the city and county of Los Angeles, and the national labor union representing working actors, SAG-AFTRA.

Although Hollywood is still recognized as the mecca for actors and directors, some worry that this legacy may soon become a distant memory.

“It is hard to call yourself the capital when you are making less than half of the product,” the president of FilmLa inc. Paul Audley noted about California’s waning industry in an interview with Film Works.

“We do not have much time left to bring this industry back and keep it here before the infrastructure, the crews, the vendors, and the studio systems have moved out of the state and then we have nothing left for this industry to call home,” he added.

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