Lights, Camera and Action Now

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Last week, in the first step of what will be a long legislative journey, Assembly Bill 1839, which will retain movie and TV production jobs in California, passed its first committee with a unanimous 7-0 vote. We applaud the members of the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media Committee for their vision, but none of us can stop for even one television commercial to rest on this initial victory.

The expansion of California’s Film and Television Tax Credit program via AB 1839 is a response to a state of emergency. As the Los Angeles 2020 Commission pointed out at the end of last year, 183,783 people in L.A. County were employed in motion pictures and video industries in 1993 and by 2013 that number had dropped to 101,127. We are losing the leading role which California has held for 100 years. This is an emergency and it’s time for action.

Over the last two decades, 40 states and dozens of nations have created incentive programs to lure production away from California. AB 1839, sponsored by Assemblymembers Mike Gatto and Raul Bocanegra, is an opportunity for California to say with one voice: “This is our industry and we aim to keep it.”

Film and television production creates jobs, it feeds small businesses of every kind and it generates millions of dollars in tax revenue. We all know the numbers, the statistics and the benefits. Yet for too long our political leaders, our civic leaders, even many of our business leaders have embraced the mistaken notion that with our great weather and cadre of motion picture support services, California could never actually lose Hollywood.

Today Toronto, Louisiana, New York, Georgia, London, Croatia, India and many other locales are welcoming production; and “Lights, Camera and Action” is happening there instead of California. AB 1839 is the first step in getting back on track.

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