California needs a new and improved film tax credit program to prevent more productions from leaving the state, the industry's chief lobbyist said Friday.
Speaking at a luncheon in Burbank hosted by the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., Chris Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, called for an expansion of the state's film tax credit program, which allocates $100 million annually but excludes large feature films with budgets greater than $75 million. The program also exempts TV pilots.
"You are well aware film and TV production here in Los Angeles faces another challenge – the growing number of productions moving out of this state and out of the country,'' Dodd said. "Other communities are feverishly developing their own film and television production infrastructure, both human and physical. They have come to realize what California has always known: Film and television productions are important job creators and economic generators."
While California's film program has kept smaller and medium-sized productions in state, it has failed to attract larger budget features that employ more crew members, Dodd said, noting that 11 of this year's 12 blockbusters were filmed in Louisiana, New Mexico and other states.
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"I know the studios I represent would prefer, everything else being equal, to make their films and television programs here in California, for many reasons," Dodd added. "Therefore, for starters, the size and number of available tax credits needs to be increased and bigger productions must be allowed to qualify for them. We also need to give long-term productions, particularly television series, the ability to plan further ahead than their current season."
Dodd's speech came as two Los Angeles legislators announced they will be pushing a new plan for tax breaks for film and TV production when the Legislature comes back to work in January.
California has had incentives for the entertainment industry since 2009, in an effort to reduce the migration of film and TV jobs to other states.