Legislation to Boost California's Film and Television Industry Moves Forward

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Legislation to keep film and television jobs in California cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday morning by passing the Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media.  The bill, AB 1734 jointly authored by Assemblymembers Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) and Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-San Diego), extends and improves the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program – one of the most effective economic development tools in the state.


“Our existing film tax credit that we overhauled in 2014 has been an unqualified success in helping reverse that trend and breathing life into an industry that was born here,” said Assemblymember Richard Bloom, a co-author of the bill that updated the program in 2014.  “While we celebrate our successes, we cannot rest on our laurels. Faced with continuing efforts to lure film and content production elsewhere, it is incumbent upon California to take steps to assure that we retain our place as the home of the entertainment industry. And that is what AB 1734 seeks to do.”


Prior to the overhauling of the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program by the Legislature in 2014, for most of the past century, California, and particularly the Los Angeles region, had been the undisputed World Capital of the Entertainment Industry.  But that livelihood was threatened by the financial incentives being offered by other states and countries to a point where feature films production declined by 30 percent and 1-hour basic cable production market share dropped by 48 percent prior to the overhauling of the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program by the Legislature in 2014. 


The precipitous drop in film and television production coincided with the aggressive, predatory practices by states such as Louisiana, Georgia and New York and countries such as Canada and Britain.  Since the film and television industry peaked in the late 1990s, California lost 90,000 middle class jobs, lost $3 billion in wages, and many local small businesses that rely on a healthy local entertainment industry were deeply impacted. 


Recognizing the economic impact that this changing landscape was having on California’s economy, in 2014 the Legislature passed AB 1839 which overhauled the state’s existing Film and Television Tax Credit Program.  That bill more than tripled the size of the existing program from $100 million to $330 million and allowed larger feature films to receive credits, increased the incentives to television shows, allowed films produced outside of the existing entertainment zone but still in California to qualify, and allowed credits for music scoring and editing. 


AB 1734 continues the $330 million in available tax credits but calls for extending the tax credit program until 2025 and expands the scope of productions and updates program requirements to ensure wider program applicability to keep pace with the changing industry landscape.  The structural changes to the program proposed by the bill will also allow the program to compete with similar programs in other states and countries.


The bill now heads to the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation.


Richard Bloom represents California’s 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.