Study: California loses millions on out-of-state films

Monday, August 22nd 2005, 1:27 pm
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ California receives millions of dollars in tax revenue when movies are filmed in the state, but about 60 percent of all productions last year were shot elsewhere, according to a study to be released Monday.

The state, for example, loses more than $10 million when a $70 million movie is made outside the state, and $3 million for a 12-episode drama, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. said.

Sponsored by labor and industry groups, the 20-page report showed that 236 features, or about 40 percent of all productions, were shot partially or exclusively in the state last year.

``The real threat is that this major economic engine could gradually leave the state, one project at a time,'' according to the report, which does not provide total lost revenue.

The findings come as lawmakers are proposing legislation to offer tax breaks to encourage producers to continue shooting films, TV shows and commercials in the state.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former actor, is pushing the legislation that would provide a 12 percent tax credit on a feature film's spending, with a cap of $3 million per production. Made-for-TV movies could get an additional 3 percent credit.

Screen Actors Guild President Melissa Gilbert said tax breaks are a top priority.

``It's really vital that we bring the work back here so that we can increase the job opportunities for our members,'' she said.

The report said states such as New Mexico and Louisiana have successful used tax breaks to lure filmmakers.

For instance, director Taylor Hackford said he shot the Oscar-nominated film ``Ray'' in Louisiana because of a $3.7 million tax credit.

``I wouldn't have been able to make that film without that kind of help,'' Hackford said. ``I want California to wake up.''