In today’s Los Angeles Times, was a powerful story explaining that of the 23 new one-hour TV-dramas put into production, just two will be shot in Los Angeles County this season. The remainder will be shot elsewhere as producers seek the tax-advantages of shooting in locations with Tax Credit Plans.
For those who don’t know, these tax credit plans give back to producers 25% or more of most dollars spent on the production in that state. This is a significant savings that producers cannot ignore; as much as we all want to stay in Los Angeles.
Simply imagine your grocery shopping bill is $100 at one store (California) and $25 less in another (say, New York). Where would you buy groceries? It’s not a hard answer.
The Times article goes on to say that in 2005, 79% of all new network one-hour dramas
were shot in Los Angeles, while in 2012 the number is staggeringly just 8%! The problem is not just limited to television but also for feature production.
These statistics are devastating to the filmmaking community.
But the problem is larger that than the lost jobs, foreclosures, bankruptcies, broken marriages, children whose parents can no longer afford to send them to college, and of course, the collateral damage that comes to the local economy that was once supported by those who worked in the film industry.
Filmmaking is a business, but it is a business, based on an art form. All art forms, from Opera Singing to Modern Dance, must be practiced on a regular basis if one can be expected to be excellent in them.
It is essential to both the industry and art form that a large base of exceptional artists exist, from cinematographers, to make-up artists, to directors and actors. For generations California, and more directly Los Angeles, was home to these individuals.
As a community, in one place, we inspired and taught each other the art, craft and science of filmmaking, in turn generating billions of dollars in revenue for the state. The finest minds in filmmaking were here. Now many people have left the business or moved away.
There is no statistic for this loss – and its long term consequences.
The business of filmmaking has changed in the last decade. States, other than California, offer significant incentives to make moves there. Incentives too good to ignore. Robust and talented crews now existing in those other areas – built by those very incentives and California’s lack of the same.
If California is serious about remaining the preeminent film capital of the world, it must immediately and aggressively adapt to this changing playing field and offer meaningful and similar incentive plans as other locations or it will cease to be the center of feature filmmaking.
I look forward to your comments!