Hollywood Begs Lawmakers for Tax Breaks to Stop the Bleeding

A nearly 50% drop in film & TV employment from 2003 to 2009

Hollywood is getting desperate, as the number of film and television productions in the state have shrunk drastically over the last decade.

Taking a lesson from states like Louisiana who have offered large tax incentives to the film industry to grow the economy, entertainment-industry advocate group Film Works has launched a campaign urging those passionate about the film and TV industry to petition lawmakers to increase tax credits to try to stop the bleeding of industry jobs.

Film Works cites a nearly 50-percent drop in film and television employment between 2003 and 2009. This massive loss to the economy (some estimated at over $100k per job), is a stark contrast to states like Louisiana, which has seen film and TV production spending explode by 19,000 percent, from $3.5 million in 2002 to $674 million in 2010. 

Each year, billions of dollars in film production spending is enjoyed by California's competitors. Just six locations (Vancouver, Toronto, Louisiana, Georgia, New Mexico, Massachusetts) that offer film incentives captured $3.2 billion in direct production spending in 2010 alone. Historically, much of that spending occurred in California.

The Film Works petition provides a series of startling figures, hoping the data serves as a wake-up call to those who care about the industry and California’s economy. A few highlights:

  • In 2003, over 66% of studio feature films shot in California. In 2011, that number had dropped to less than 40%.
  • In 2009, the worst year on record, on-location shooting days for feature films in Los Angeles dropped nearly 65%.
  • In 2005, 79% of new network one-hour dramas filmed in California. In 2012, only 8% (just two of the 23 new shows) filmed here.
  • From 2004-2011, California lost $3 billion in film crew wages to other states and nations offering film incentives, according to Entertainment Partners.
  • For many IATSE union Locals in Greater Los Angeles, the unemployment rate is 30% or higher, which is higher than unemployment during the Great Depression.
  • According to the Milken Institute, since Canada enacted the first tax credit program in 1997, now copied in roughly 40 states and dozens of nations, California has lost 36,000 jobs as a result.