May-June 2014

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50 CINEMONTAGE / MAY-JUN 14 Compiled by Jeff Burman F oreign and out-of-state financial incentives aimed at luring away motion picture production from Hollywood have clearly taken their toll, writes Alex Ben Block in The Hollywood Reporter. He draws extensively from a recent study done by the non-profit FilmL.A. It wasn't that long ago. Hollywood and California, taken together, were still a predominant location for film production as little as 15 years ago, but today rank fourth behind Canada, Louisiana and the United Kingdom in the all-important category of credited job counts. In the category of total spending by region on film production and post-production, California ranks third behind Canada and the UK. The decline is dramatic. If you set aside animated features, California's share of the top 25 big-budgeted, live- action films dropped from 64 percent in 1997 to just 8 percent in 2013. Of 26 live-action movies with budgets over $100 million, only two were made primarily in California: The Hangover Part III and Star Trek: Into Darkness. California has seen a precipitous decline in visual effects work. The report says that there's a common belief that California gets the bulk of post-production and visual effects work no matter where a movie is made. The report also says that is no longer true. Over 15 years ago, a majority of the big visual effects companies were based mainly or entirely in California. Because of international competition and the potent lure of film incentives tailored specifically for animation and visual effects, California's visual effects industry has collapsed. Today, there is only one significant visual effects company left in California, Industrial Light & Magic, which is expanding to Vancouver, Canada not the San Francisco Bay Area, where it is based. At the heart of this tectonic shift are the incentives offered to bring movies — and their high-paying jobs — to key locations all over the world. The report says that with the exception of California, all of the top five filming locations last year were places offering "substantial uncapped film incentive programs." These uncapped incentives do not set a limit on how much will be spent in a given year, unlike California, which has an annual cap of $100 million in tax incentives and currently does not allow the biggest-budget movies or network TV series to apply. New legislation was recently introduced in California to change that. The legislation, the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act, Assembly Bill 1839, would renew California's tax incentives for an additional five years. The bill, introduced by Assemblymen Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) and Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), would lift a $75 million budget cap on productions that are eligible for the program, making all network and cable dramas eligible. Lawmakers have yet to place a dollar figure on how much would be available each year. Hollywood unions, including all of the IATSE Locals in California, have heartily endorsed AB 1839 and this support was demonstrated in February with a rally of union members in Burbank, with attendees numbering over 1,500. The Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee in Sacramento approved the bill in late March, re-referring it to the Committee on Revenue and Taxation. But seeing the legislation signed by the progressive but prudent Governor Jerry Brown is considered an uphill struggle. Looking beyond California, no region has benefited more from an incentive program than Louisiana, which in 2013 was the site of more of the big movies in the survey than any other state, with a total of 18. That was followed by Canada and California with 15, and the UK with a dozen. The state of Georgia was fifth, with nine productions out of 108 features studied in the report. The 108 were the total number of films released by the six major studios (Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.), plus the five "mini-majors" (DreamWorks, Lionsgate, The Weinstein Company, FilmDistrict and Relativity Media). The report also measures how many jobs these movies created in 2013. It finds that there were 14,170 jobs created in Canada, 13,690 in Louisiana, 13,032 in the UK, and 8,566 in California. Back in 1997, Canadian provinces LABOR MAT TERS California's Long Decline in Film Production CineMontage_May-Jun_14-3.indd 50 4/15/14 2:58 PM

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