Key Policy Panel OK to Extend Film/TV Tax Credit, Supporting Entertainment Industry

A bill to extend a model program to keep and create mostly off-screen jobs in California’s renowned film and TV industries today passed its first policy hurdle.

“California’s film and TV industries are among the state’s strongest economic and most creative forces internationally and I’m proud many of its hard-working employees are my constituents,” Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, said after the Senate Governance and Finance Committee passed Senate Bill 951. “These are good playing jobs that can last a lifetime and these projects contribute $5.9 billion in direct in-state spending, including $2.3 million wages to technical crew.”

Specifically, SB 951, titled the California Film and Television Production Act, would extend the film production tax credit program from June 30, 2020 to June 30, 2025.

SB 951 aims to halt any exodus of California-based film and TV productions to other states that provide more advantageous tax credits, incentives and promotions.

To date, the program has allocated $840 million in tax credits to 150 approved projects. The described in-state spending and wages benefit technical crews. Wages for writers, directors, producers or actors are not eligible for tax credits.

Those numbers reflect 29,000 cast members hired; 18,000 crew members hired; and 13 TV series that relocated to California from out of state.

“The program keeps families together,” Mitchell added. “It keeps children living with their parents 12 months out of the year, ensuring there are no long separations while one parent is out filming for months at a time.”

Other provisions of SB 951 include:

· Awarding tax credits according to a jobs ratio rating system, whereby applications are ranked based upon the number of jobs created and other economic factors.

· Ensuring that similar productions compete against each other by establishing separate “buckets” for feature films, television series and independent productions.

· Retaining a special category – and additional credit – for TV series that have filmed outside of California to encourage them to relocate to California;

· Offering an additional 5 percent tax credit increase for production outside the Los Angeles 30-mile zone.

Mitchell’s measure was supported by members of both parties, and Gov. Brown signed into law the original 2014 measure, which also received bipartisan support.

SB 951 is sponsored by numerous groups and unions affiliated with the film industry. They include: The California Film & Television Production Alliance; California IATSE Council; the Entertainment Union Coalition; the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.; the Directors Guild of America; the Screen Actors Guild-America Federation of Television and Radio Artists; LIUNA; Local 724; Teamsters Local 399 – Studio Transportation Drivers, Location Managers;

IATSE Local 16—San Francisco/Bay Area; IATSE Local 44 – Affiliated Property Craftspersons; IATSE Local 80 – Motion Picture Studio Grips, Crafts Services;

IATSE Local 600 – International Cinematographers Guild; IATSE Local 695 – Production Sound/Video and Projection Engineers; IATSE Local 706—Make Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild; IATSE Local 728—Studio Electrical Lighting Technicians; IATSE Local 729-Motion Picture Set Painters and sign writers; IATSE Local 800 – Art Directors Guild; IATSE Local 892—Costume Designers Guild; IATSE Local 884 – Motion Picture Studio Teachers & Welfare Workers; IATSE Local 871 – Script Supervisors/Continuity, Accountants and Allied Production Specialists; IATSE Local 705 – Motion Picture Costumers; IATSE Local 700 – Motion Picture Editors; IATSE Local 839 – The Animation Guild

IATSE Local 504 – Orange County; IATSE Local 857 – Treasurers & Ticket Sellers.

The bill is also supported by 21ST Century Fox; the Association of Talent Agents; Blumhouse; The California Chamber of Commerce; the California Labor Federation; the California State Council of Laborers; the Laborers international Union of North America; the California Travel Association; the Teamsters Public Affairs Council; the City of Los Angeles; the City and County of San Francisco; Code Entertainment; Film LA; Film Liaisons in California Statewide; Film San Francisco; Film Shasta; the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission; Indie; NBC Universal; the Placer-Lake Tahoe Film Office; the Producers Guild of America; the Sacramento Film Commission; ShivHans Pictures; Studio Utility Employees, Local 724; the Walt Disney Company; Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc.; and WWE Studios.

SB 951 will next be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee. A hearing date has not yet been set.

Ray Sotero

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