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Calif. Tax Incentives Generated $2B in Direct Spending, Arnold Says

Schwarzenegger says California Film & Television Tax Credit Program achieved its goal of keeping scores of film and TV productions in state

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on Friday that the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program generated $2 billion in direct spending, thanks to its keeping scores of film and TV shoots in the state.

Arnold SchwarzeneggerIn its first year, the program, administered by the California Film Commission, allocated $200 million in tax credits to 77 projects. This year, another 30 projects are set to receive an additional $100 million in tax credit allocations.

Together, they are estimated to bring $2 billion in direct spending to California, including $736 million in below-the-line wages, according to data compiled by the Film Commission.

“This is exactly why I fought so hard for tax credits in last year’s budget. Already, the film and television incentive has led to thousands of retained jobs and increased economic activity. Just the first two years of this incentive will generate $2 billion in direct spending, with even more to come,”  Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

“It is the private sector that will bring California’s economy back, and our tax incentives are clearly helping employers along the way. That’s why it’s important that we continue to be a partner to employers and not a roadblock,” he added.

The California Film Commission reports that the 77 first-year projects approved for tax credits will hire 18,200 crew members, 4,000 cast members and more than 100,000 extras. The approved projects include 51 feature films, both studio and independent, seven TV series and 14 made-for-TV movies.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith said he owed his movie "Red State" to the California program. “For three years, I've been trying to make 'Red State,'" he said in a statement. "It wasn't until my project qualified for the tax credit program that the flick fast-tracked into reality." 

As of June 1, 2010, production companies could apply to California’s tax credit program for allocations from the program’s second year. Thirty productions were approved, exhausting the fiscal year funding. The remaining applicants have been added to a waiting list. The 30 productions include 19 feature films, eight TV series and three made-for-TV movies.

“The enormous interest in our tax credit program shows that a targeted incentive can keep tens of thousands of high-paying jobs in California,” California Film Commission executive director Amy Lemisch said in a statement. “I am thrilled with how effective this program has been.”

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