News Column

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti goes on 'Today' to declare state of emergency over runaway production

August 27, 2013


Aug. 27--Mayor Eric Garcetti is stepping up his efforts to keep the film business in Los Angeles, saying the spate of runaway productions from the region is a state of emergency.

In a series of interviews Tuesday, Garcetti said he plans to press the case with Sacramento to provide more in the way of tax incentives and other easements to keep more productions in Los Angeles, a proposal he has been advocating since his campaign for mayor this past year.

"We've lost the blockbuster films. They don't film here any more. Tax credits around the world and around the country have taken them away." Garcetti said on the "Today Show."

California has had a $100 million per year incentive program to keep production in the state, but it is dwarfed by such states as New York, which has a $420 million incentive program, and others where the overall costs of filming are significantly lower.

Garcetti said he has talked with Gov. Jerry Brown about the important of removing limits and reducing red tape, saying they had a positive conversation where he laid out the data on the impact of production and the multiplier effect on other industries.

"And I underscored the importance that this is a signature industry," he noted in another interview.

TV and film production is credited with creating 90,000 jobs and paying some $3 billion in wages. "It's about the person holding the sound boom, it's the person painting the sets," Garcetti said on "Today."

The issue has been prominent for Garcetti ever since his inaugural address, when he told the masses, "Our state legislature has to understand -- meaningful tax credits for our entertainment industry isn't some show-biz boondoggle. It means more jobs, more tax revenue, which other cities are tripping over themselves to take away."

He has since pledged to appoint a film czar before the end of the year to help productions take advantage of the various incentives that are available as well as work through the city's many regulations for filming.

The issue of runaway productions has been ongoing. In 2003, 68 percent of all productions were based in California. In 2011, that dropped to 59 percent.

The California Film Commission has said the state continues to experience an erosion of the industry, with network television dramas and feature films increasingly moving elsewhere.

The city has taken some steps to reduce or eliminate all city fees as an incentive, but Garcetti said the city needs to show continued progress.

"I am going to be like a dog with a bone on this and stay with this," he said. "I can't single-handedly move Sacramento, but I think we will do what works to educate our lawmakers."


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