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LA takes baby steps to keep Hollywood at home


Is Los Angeles finally trying to become a film friendly city?

Don't hold your breath. But the city council this morning unanimously approved a series of modest recommendations aimed at slowing the disturbing migration rate of TV and film production to other cities and states.

The 17 recommendations include having the city evaluate a business tax credit for building owners that make their properties available for filming at "reasonable rate," and a sales tax refund for purchases made for filming when at least 75 percent of the shooting is done within the city. The council also agreed to offer city parking lots for free to film crews that shoot after hours or on weekends to increase the availability of power nodes downtown that film production companies could use in lieu of generators.

The steps come amid mounting evidence that LA is losing jobs in film and TV to other cheaper locales. More than 40 states offer tax credits and rebates. The city's wake-up came last year when ABC moved its sitcom "Ugly Betty" from LA to New York, to take advantage of tax credits there. Earlier this year, California adopted its first ever film tax credits, which have helped keep some productions from leaving but are considered too narrow in scope to compete with what other states offer.

Local sales tax credits for filmmakers could help make LA more competitive, but it's unclear whether and how much the city is willing to subsidize the local entertainment industry given the city's severe budget crunch.

Councilman Richard Alarcon, who chaired the jobs and business development committee that crafted the recommendations, said the steps are long overdue.

"We are in competition with locations throughout the country as well as Canada and if we do not fight to keep filming in LA it could have a devastating effect on our economy,'' he said. "Some argue that it already has. It's critical that we recognized filming as significant part of our economy and that we need to grow and protect it."

-Richard Verrier

Photo Credit: Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (3)

After moving from LA to New Mexico 3 years ago due to lack of work I'm still amazed that it's taken sooooo long for the city to get it's act together. It must be the 2X4 policy -- do nothing till it smacks you in the face. Sad indeed.

The incentives adopted by the City Council to increase filming in Los Angeles are much needed and critically important, but they should not be the entire focus of our efforts to keep the entertainment industry headquartered here.

Actual shooting of film and TV shows is only one part of the industry; in fact, it employs only a minority of entertainment workers. While production has left in droves (and much of it, frankly, will never return), the basic infrastructure of the industry remains here---pre- and post-production facilities, key creative talent and---often overlooked---the non-production, or business, side of the industry. The major studios and most independent production companies still have their business operations here in Southern California, including ancillary businesses such as accounting, law and marketing firms, and they account for the lion’s share of the industry’s employee base now. They have not left . . . yet. Since it is much easier to retain business than it is to bring it back, our political leaders should also be looking at ways to be sure the entertainment industry’s corporate operations stay here.

That means looking at such things as business license taxes, promoting development and expansion of office facilities, and---most importantly---working to bring back the quality of life for their employees that attracted the industry here 100 years ago by improving neighborhoods, promoting responsible growth, keeping communities safe and clean, protecting the environment, etc. All the things that make a city a place people want to be.

Great, but this is really something the state should be doing. And it's about 10 years too late. But better late than never.


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