Diane Haithman is a Deadline Hollywood Contributor
Today at a California Film & Television Production Alliance rally in Sunland, CA, state assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima), who co-authored the legislation for an increase in California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program, called the crowd to action: “This will not be an easy lift. We’re going to have to tell stories. There are some folks in Sacramento who think this program doesn’t work, that it’s a giveaway (to California’s workers)”
After his speech before a crowd of 600 at Independent Studio Services, Bocanegra told Deadline that there is no dollar figure attached to the overhaul legislation for California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program but its authors want the expansion to “be competitive with other states” and cited New York’s $450 million tax credit program. When asked if he seeks a similar figure for California, Bocanegra said “yes.”
Bocanegra also said that despite recent news reports, California Governor Jerry Brown is “not dragging his feet” on the legislation and that any apparent delays are just “the way he operates. Reluctance on the part of the governor, he said, “is not what we’re feeling right now.We’ve been in touch with his office.”
The progression for the legislation, he said, is that it will first be reviewed by the California Arts & Entertainment Committee. Then it goes to the Committee for Revenue and Taxation (which Bocanegra chairs) and finally to the Appropriations Committee, chaired by the co-author of the new legislation, Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles). The progression gives Bocanegra confidence in success.
Bocanegra added that although today’s event focused on the middle class and service industry employers and employees, he stressed that the legislation includes eliminating the $75 million budget cap on productions eligible for the tax credit to bring “big tentpole” production back to California.
Earlier, the assemblyman exhorted the crowd to applaud: “This is a rally, right?’ he crowed. “This turnout is amazing… we represent you, and what we’re hearing from our constituents is, you want a bigger and better film tax credit program. We are going to go big, and we’re not going home. When we go big, that means what? Jobs!”
On February 19, Bocanegra and Gatto introduced legislation to expand the $100 million credit program (The Expanded Film and Television Job Creation Act AB 1839), with nearly 60 co-sponsors from across the state. According to a statement released by The California Film and Television Alliance, “one medium-budget feature film made in California will likely result in “the purchase of goods and services from nearly 500 small businesses (and) result in 792 million in direct spending in California and roughly 8500 middle class jobs.” The Alliance is comprised of guilds, unions, producers, small businesses, film commissions, and associations working together to promote, improve and enhance film and TV production in California. LA’s new film czar, Ken Ziffren, has said previously that he wants to see California production return to the high levels seen in the mid-1990s. The Alliance cites that from 2004 to 2011, California has lost $3 billion in wages to other states and countries with better film and TV incentive programs.
The rally today kicked off with singer Lisa Haley (of Grammy-nominated band Lisa Haley & the Zydecats) shouting to the crowd, “Can I hear an Amen?…They’ve punished us enough. Time to bring business back to California!”
Gregg Bilson, CEO of Independent Studio Services (hosting the event at their company location today) had to coax guests from under dining table tents into the hot sun to listen to today’s panelists. The unseasonable sun and heat, he said, “is the new normal. At least it’s not Chicago,” he joked. Then, to cheers: “It’s a great place to make movies and television shows, dontcha think?” Bilson, a second-generation propmaster, said his three sons also work in the business and added the state must support local production “so the fourth generation, my granddaughter, can choose to work in the business as well.”
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