More than 1,000 entertainment industry workers gathered in Burbank on Saturday, launching a campaign to support an expansion of California’s film and TV tax credit program.
The rally, organized by a coalition of entertainment industry unions, drew an unusually large swath of set decorators, prop makers, grips, camera operators and other technicians who filled two conference rooms at the Pickwick Gardens on Riverside Drive.
They were urged by union leaders to volunteer their services and write emails and letters to state lawmakers in support of legislation recently introduced by Assemblymen Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) and Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), who were among a parade of state and local politicians who spoke at the meeting.
“This is our time to take up arms,” said Thom Davis, president of the Entertainment Union Coalition. “We have the numbers, we have the people, we have the will, and we have the ability to see this through.”
Steve Dayan, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 399, which represents location managers, drivers and casting directors, said his members were even prepared to drive a caravan of trucks to Sacramento to get their message across to state lawmakers.
“We are not going to stand by and let other states poach our jobs,” Dayan said. “It’s wrong and we are going to put a stop to it.”
Gatto and Bocanegra touted the fact that their bill - which would expand funding for the state’s film tax credit (currently limited to $100 million annually) and allow more projects to qualify - has already drawn support from a majority of their colleagues in the Assembly. They were joined by Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).
“This is about maintaining and supporting middle-class jobs of Californians,” De Leon told the crowd. “I find it quite perverse that many of you have gone to other states ... to train other individuals who will eventually replace you.”
Despite broad support, A.B. 1839 is expected to encounter tougher resistance in the Senate, and with Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not been a supporter of industry tax breaks. Brown did, however, approve a two-year extension of the program in late 2012.
“It’s going to be a tough selling point with the governor,” Gatto said.
[For the record, 3:20 p.m., Feb. 24: A previous version of this post incorrectly said that Assemblyman Gatto represented Pacoima.]