On Location: Proposal to expand California film tax credit to get a show of support

California lawmakers are poised to quadruple funding for the state’s film and TV tax credit program, but industry supporters aren’t leaving anything to chance.

An alliance of unions, producers, small businesses and crew members will converge on Sacramento on Wednesday to demonstrate their support for Assembly Bill 1839.

The bill would increase funding to $400 million annually and would scrap a lottery system to allocate subsidies. Instead, applicants would be chosen based on how many jobs they would create.


AB 1839, or the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act, cleared a major hurdle last week when the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 5 to 0 in favor of the bill, which has wide bipartisan support and is expected to be approved by the full Senate this month.

Still, Gov. Jerry Brown has been silent on the measure, and it remains unclear whether he will be willing to expand funding by that much, given his focus on reining in state spending.

“We never want to take anything for granted,” said Thom Davis, business representative for Local 80 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents grips, set medics and other crew members. “We can’t allow California to become another Michigan where we let our signature industry leave. This is an opportunity to reinforce how important this industry is to the state.”

To help make their case, crew members from the ABC Family hit series “Pretty Little Liars” and other shows will gather at noon on the north lawn of the Capitol to “give a behind-the-scenes demonstration of how the nation’s favorite film and television shows become reality,” according to a statement from the alliance.

It’s the latest of several events the alliance has staged as part of its campaign to support the bill. The group held a rally in March at a Sunland prop house to highlight the effect of runaway production on small businesses.

At least 200 crew members, vendors, film commissioners and others are expected at Wednesday’s event, which will include a demonstration of green-screen technology and sessions showing how makeup artists, hairstylists and sound effects artists work.

Actor Ron Perlman, star of the FX TV series “Sons of Anarchy,” and Carl Weathers, star of the “Rocky” films, also are scheduled to attend.

“These are all our jobs and we want to make sure they realize that,” said Ed Duffy, business agent for Teamsters Local 399, which represents location managers, casting directors and drivers. “Our jobs are at stake here.”