What would happen if California offered movie and TV tax credits similar to other states and countries?
It might mean a surge in feature film on-location shoots, like the 24.2 percent increase that non-profit permitting agency FilmL.A. reported Tuesday in its first quarter analysis of production activity in the region.
Among the projects that qualified for the tax credits — and accounted for 25 percent of the the first quarter film numbers — were “Entourage: The Movie,” “Horrible Bosses 2,” “Los Altos,” “Night Crawler” and “The Zone.” That’s an unusually high number of qualified films, and the fact that they all happened to be shooting on location — the report doesn’t measure sound-stage production — further upped the figures.
Still, FilmL.A. officials were glad to see the rise.
“This quarter’s report hints at what would be possible if California were to truly step up and compete for new film projects and jobs,” said FilmL.A. President Paul Audley. “California’s Film & Television Tax Credit Program is in its fifth year; just imagine where we could be five years from now if current efforts to expand the state’s incentive program are successful.”
A bill that would extend and expand the program, currently capped at $100 million annually, is currently working its way through the California Legislature. Among other things, it would make movies with production budgets in excess of $75 million eligible for credits.
“This report underscores the importance of our work to expand the film and television credit program to create jobs and boost our economy,” observed Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has made halting runaway production a priority.
The gains in feature film offset a 9.2 percent drop in TV shoots. Nearly every TV category was off, including dramas (down 7.9 percent), sitcoms (18 percent), reality (9.1 percent) and web-based (29.7 percent). Pilot production increased, however, by 1.5 percent.
The overall TV decline would have been much steeper were it not for the local presence of incentive-qualified TV dramas like “Franklin & Bash,” “Justified,” “Major Crimes,” “Murder in the First,” “Pretty Little Liars” and “Rizzoli and Isles.”
TV dramas are seen as the most desirable in terms of positive economic impact on the region, since most are high-end, hour-long and film multiple episodes.
With commercials up a little and “other” shoots – like music videos and industrial films – flat, overall production was essentially even with last year’s first quarter.