L.A. Mayor Seeks Doubling of State’s Film Tax Credits

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he’s lobbied California Governor Jerry Brown and state legislators for an expansion of state tax credits for film and TV production to stem Hollywood’s exodus of entertainment jobs.

Garcetti is seeking to at least double the amount the state offers in tax credits from the current $100 million a year. He also wants the program expanded to include commercials, shows on premium cable networks such as HBO and films with budgets of more than $75 million.

The 43-year-old Democrat, elected in May, also is taking steps at the local level, such as letting producers film in municipal buildings for free or waiving city permit fees for television pilots. He is meeting with studio executives to cajole them into shooting more locally, rather than moving production to areas where subsidies are higher.

“I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to do something,” Garcetti said in a Feb. 7 interview at Bloomberg’s Los Angeles office. “I think we’re going to see some stuff come back and some stuff that wouldn’t have filmed here stay.”

Garcetti created the Mayor’s Entertainment Industry and Production Office last year to help combat the loss of film and TV production to competing locales such as New York and Louisiana. Tom Sherak, who headed the office, developed a plan to increase state tax incentives before he died last month from prostate cancer.

Sherak will be replaced by Kenneth Ziffren, the veteran Los Angeles entertainment attorney, Garcetti announced today.

Job Losses

Southern California, long a hub of film and TV production, has lost jobs in recent years as competing jurisdictions, including 40 states and 30 countries, have adopted incentives for local filming, according to Film L.A. Inc., a non-profit that administers permits.

Entertainment employment in Los Angeles County has fallen 6.6 percent to 132,900 since 2007, according to figures released on Feb. 6 by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

Last year, moviemaking in Los Angeles increased to its highest level since 2008, due to independent film shoots, according to Film L.A. It remains 50 percent below the 1996 peak, as measured by days of permitted production.

California’s current allocation of $100 million annually in tax credits runs through the 2017 fiscal year, according to the website of the California Film Commission.

Ziffren is a founding partner of Los Angeles-based Ziffren Brittenham LLP. The firm represents clients including Sandra Bullock, Eddie Murphy and Olivia Wilde, according to Imdb.com. He will focus on eliminating regulations that contribute to so-called runaway production, Garcetti said in a statement today.

“This is a critical moment for our industry and our economy,” Ziffren said in the statement. “If we don’t fight back now these jobs are going to be lost for good.”

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