Written by Gordon Webster, Jr.
California has always been a place to create things. Manufacturing once flourished in the state, where hundreds of thousands of workers churned out everything from airplanes to automobiles, rocket engines to computers.
While the state’s manufacturing sector has declined for a number of factors, namely overregulation, one of the Golden State’s original and most glitzy industries is seeing resurgence thanks to a new tax credit program.
The Film and Television Tax Credit Program 2.0 was signed into law in 2014, designated as a “job creator” by the California Chamber of Commerce. The goal: encourage television and film productions to remain in or return to California.
A recent report from the California Film Commission shows just how much an industry can flourish if only its tax liability can be eased just a little bit.
According to the report, the program led to a sustained 12-percent increase in hours worked in state, the relocation of a growing number of established TV series to California from out of state, and more filming outside of the greater 30-mile Los Angeles zone.
Here are some other highlights:
- In the two years of the expanded program, California gained 38 feature film projects and 50 TV projects.
- The projects are projected to spend $28 million across 10 counties
- All the projects are generating an estimated $3.7 billion in direct statewide spending.
The program more than tripled the size of California’s film and TV production incentives — from $100 million a year to $330 million a year through 2019-2020. It also opened up the kinds of projects eligible for funding. An additional 5-percent tax credit for productions that shoot outside of Los Angeles means good news for the Central Valley, which has always been a hotbed of Hollywood productions.
The HBO crime drama “True Detective” would’ve taken advantage of that when it selected Tulare County’s Balch Park to shoot a scene for the second season’s finale in 2015.
There’s real spending involved with these sorts of productions — anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per day, going to small businesses, gas stations, hotels and more. The Film and Television Tax Credit Program 2.0 is good policy that also encourages more productions to locate in the Central Valley. The Legislature ought to be doing more of it.