Keeping Hollywood at Home

The film and television industries are an essential part of the California economy, especially in the Crescenta Valley where thousands of “below-the-line” workers rely on the industry for their livelihood. Let’s face it, Hollywood may have the sign, but this is where movie magic is actually made. But for several years, California’s film and television industry has faced increasing competition from subsidies by other states and countries.

Since its creation in 2009, the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act has prevented as many as 51,000 well-paying jobs from leaving the state, and helped generate $4.5 billion in economic activity. Despite the program’s success, figures from the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics show that from 2004-2012, California lost more than 16,000 film- and television-industry jobs, resulting in more than $1.5 billion in lost wages and economic activity.

To address the flight of jobs, I have co-authored several pieces of legislation in the past several years. In 2012, I coauthored the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, which created 40,000 new job opportunities in Southern California, prevented thousands of others from fleeing, and increased economic activity statewide. Now, this year, I am joining Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra in co-authoring AB 1839, the Film and Television Job Retention Act of 2014. This legislation is a proactive step that would expand and improve the state’s current incentive program to keep well-paying production jobs in our community.

For nearly two years, I have been meeting with affected parties from various sectors of the film and television industry to determine how to improve California’s economic climate. I have tried to focus my meetings on below-the-line workers and local small-production professionals impacted by the flight of their craft. I have also studied think-tank reports collected by my staff to evaluate what works best in the current tax credit and what needs to be improved to maximize effectiveness.

Losing any more of the film and television industries would greatly harm the local economy, not just because of the people directly working in production, but because of the indirect employment and economic activity from businesses like caterers, security companies and restaurants. Production also brings investment into our communities for infrastructure improvements and increases tourist spending in our neighborhoods. We must do everything possible to make sure that good jobs stay where they belong.

In addition to the tax incentive, I am also investigating other ways to attract the industry to our area and keep them here. That’s where you come in.

Many of you have worked or currently work in the film and television industry. You understand the realities of working in the industry on a daily basis. Do you have ideas on how to keep television and motion picture jobs in our communities that left and how to attract the productions back here where they belong?

I look forward to hearing from you to find out what we can do to ensure the film and television industry remains in Southern California. You may contact me at Assemblymember.Gatto@assembly.ca.gov.

Mike Gatto is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the California State Assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz and Silver Lake.  www.asm.ca.gov/gatto

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