California Tax Incentives See $6 Billion Payoff

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The California Film Commission’s Film & Television Tax Credit Program 2.0 has resulted in almost $6 billion spent in-state over the past three years, according to a new report from the state agency. The program was created to stop production companies and on-camera projects from relocating to competing states like Georgia, New York, or Louisiana in an effort to cut costs.

The increase in expenditure means productions that were granted tax credits had the ability to employ more than 18,000 cast members and 29,000 crew members, which resulted in more jobs and a higher quality of work.

The program was created specifically for television projects, relocating TV series, indie features, and nonindie features, and appears to have been successful in all of the aforementioned areas. The commission’s report showed a 15.6 percent increase in the hours worked in California by below-the-line crew members since 2014. The program has also led to 10 big-budget films being produced in California, five of which have been brought in within this past year, including “Call of the Wild,” “Captain Marvel,” “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Island Plaza,” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

The allocation dedicated to relocating TV series has also proved successful. This year saw two additional shows moving out West: NBC’s “Timeless” from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Amazon’s “Sneaky Pete” from New York. In total, the program has provided enough incentives to lure 15 TV series to California from across the U.S. and Canada.

Also prioritized was the encouragement of statewide production outside the oversaturated hub of Los Angeles: $78 million has been spent on tax credit projects in 19 counties outside L.A.’s 30-mile zone, and the figure is only expected to rise.

“Today’s report shows that Program 2.0 is working over the long term to create high-quality production jobs and increase production spending in California,” said California Film Commission Executive Director Amy Lemisch in a statement. “While our tax credit is far more targeted than most, it does precisely what it was designed to do by keeping us competitive and reminding the industry that California has everything needed to provide the best value.”

In total, $815 million in tax credits have been allocated by the state. Per the report, the figure included “$2.25 billion in qualified wages, $1.89 billion in qualified vendor expenditures, and $1.85 billion in other expenditures” that do not qualify for tax credits.

So, what does this mean for actors? Greater union job opportunities in original and engaging projects across the whole of the state, not just L.A. The success of the program is not only a step toward a continued stream of quality acting work in California, but is an encouraging nudge for other states and Canada to provide more film and TV tax incentives in order to compete. Funding for the arts has been in jeopardy since the government’s now-refused proposal to zero out funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, but this new study may just continue to prove film and TV’s economic value.

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