California is on its way to reclaiming its position as the film and television capital of the world, thanks in large part to the enhanced tax credit program approved by the legislature last year to curb runaway production.

Although the stepped-up program was launched just a few months ago, the results are already impressive.  A Los Angeles Times article indicates a jump of 54% in the number of days television shows were shot in the region, according to FilmL.A. On location television dramas experienced a 24% increase, sit-coms 26% and pilots 32%.  As an example of the economic impact, one 22- episode TV show sustains 840 jobs and generates $9 million in local and state tax revenues. 

The availability and level of tax credits to lower production costs has become the determining factor when it comes to where the vast majority of film and television projects are filmed.  More than 40 competing U.S. states and scores of countries recognized this factor early on, offering robust financial incentives which lured film and television jobs and spending away from California.  According to a report issued by Entertainment Partners, California lost 90,000 jobs and $3 billion in film and television wages from 2004 to 2011.

Semon Knudsen once said, “In business the competition will bite you if you keep running. If you stand still they will swallow you.” Well, the legislature, in bolstering the state’s modest film and television tax credit program, has leveled the playing field to some degree –giving California’s competitors a real run. No swallowing here.

The enhanced program more than triples the tax credit funding – to $330 million –  and has expanded eligibility for the tax credits to big budget films, one hour television series and certain post production activities.  And, the assignment of tax credits by lottery has been replaced by a “jobs ratio” ranking system that selects projects based on wages paid to below-the-line workers among other criteria.

No time to be complacent, though. Competitors are still on the hunt, and California remains in the bull’s eye.  Blockbuster films continue to be filmed elsewhere, and post production incentives elsewhere are lucrative.

But, California is unparalleled when it comes to weather, mountains, desert, beaches and everything in between – enabling the state “to be anywhere in the world”. And, the creativity and talent in our state is par excellence.  Case in point, California-based television projects received 175 Emmy nominations this year – more received by any single state or country worldwide.

Today the entertainment industry accounts for more than 250,000 jobs in the state with the opportunity to increase those jobs substantially, what with competitive incentives and the creativity that is part of California’s DNA.

As Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti stated so well – “Hollywood wants to come home and now we have the tools in place to make it happen.”

Billie Greer is a public policy advisor.  Portions of this article appeared previously, under her by-line, in the Los Angeles Newspaper Group’s publications and Fox & Hounds.

(Editor’s Note: Check out Billie Greer’s story on the 77-Year-Old Bike Babe at Zocalo Public Square.)