A coalition of entertainment industry groups, politicians and community members rallied Saturday to support legislation that would extend and expand California’s film and TV tax credit, which is due to expire in 2017.
Hundreds of people gathered at Independent Studio Services, a prop house in Sunland, to push for the recently proposed AB 1839 at the California Film & Television Production Alliance's Small Business Kick Off Rally.
The bill, written by Assemblymen Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) and Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), who were among the local politicians who spoke at the rally, seeks to extend California's film tax credit and expand its scope.
Under a program enacted in 2009, California allocates $100 million annually to film and TV productions, which are eligible for up to a 25% tax credit toward qualified production expenses.
However, industry officials have been vocal about substantially increasing the annual funding to become more competitive with programs offered by states including New York, New Mexico, Louisiana and Georgia.
"It's no longer our birthright as Californians to expect the film industry is going to stay here," Independent Studio Services founder and event co-host Greg Bilson said to the crowd. "We have to have incentives that are going to make us competitive with other states."
Jason Waggoner, owner of trailer rental firm Star Waggons Studio Rentals, said the industry is facing a crisis.
"Our industry is packing up and leaving our state, and unfortunately it's leaving faster and faster," he said at the rally. "It's affecting all corners of the economy. Whether it be that we have to cut payroll from jobs or limit spending to literally hundreds of local vendors, the effects are real."
California must remain competitive, he said, or risk "losing this unique industry forever."
Event co-host Ray Bidenost, principal of Chef Robert Catering, also said legislative changes are necessary.
"Today is a special day for California," he said. "We are making history and we want change. By attending this, you're saying you want change too."
Throughout the rally, attendees were encouraged to write letters and sign petitions asking state officials to support the proposed legislation. A similar rally, held last month in Burbank, drew thousands of industry workers.
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