L.A. County Exploring Post-Strike Tax Incentives, Fee Waivers And A Capital Fund To Help Local Film & TV Production Get Back On Its Feet

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has taken a step toward what could be a major economic package to boost local film, TV and digital production.

The motion by Supervisors Katheryn Barger and Lindsey Horvath directs the County Department of Economic Opportunity in consultation with FilmLA “to identify an economic development firm to study various strategies that could incentivize new and continued movie, commercial, and television production in the County.” The motion was passed yesterday by an unanimous 5-0 vote. Read the full text here.

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“Given the importance of the entertainment industry to the Los Angeles County economy, it is vital to proactively keep this industry located in the region and economically strong,” reads the motion. “The County can do this by ensuring we do not place additional barriers or burdens on filming, especially on County property.”

Among the mechanisms under consideration:

  • Proposed incentive packages to attract foreign investment in film production
  • Payroll and sales tax reductions for productions that shoot in unincorporated areas
  • Tax reductions or deferments for production facility capital development projects
  • A “creative economy evergreen capital development fund” to encourage expansion of emerging entertainment technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence
  • Reductions in regulatory and zoning barriers to building production facilities in the county
  • A fee waiver program for lower impact and/or student productions that shoot in the unincorporated areas
  • A plan to leverage vacant underutilized County properties for shared production space

“I want to support the entertainment industry by making sure our County stands ready to lend its support as the strikes reach their resolutions,” said Barger. “This motion is also about ensuring that L.A. County will continue to be a destination for filming and discouraging film and television shoots to move out of our County because it’s easier and cheaper to do so. The County will develop proposals to spur filming locally by looking at ways to streamline bureaucracy and reduce fees. We need to send a clear message that Los Angeles County should remain a priority and anchor for the entertainment industry.”

In addition, the motion directs various county agencies to take action on the following: advocate in support of enhancing the California Film Tax Incentive program, including, but not limited to, increasing the tax credit, remove all fee and permit requirements for production scout visits to County property except for cost
recovery for staff time, engage with studios and unions to encourage young and diverse populations to learn more about and land jobs in the industry.

The 2023 Otis Report on the Creative Economy put the local entertainment sector at approximately one million jobs, $114 billion in labor income, and $38 billion in tax revenue. As proof of the opportunity, the supervisors’ proposal cites “more than 178,000 cast and crew” who were hired as a result of California’s state tax credits, “among other benefits such as money being spent in the state and County while filming.”

The approved motion cites revenue lost due to the strikes as a motivating factor. An L.A. Economic Development Corporation report estimated a strike of 100 days “cost the County at least $3 to $4 billion if the strike lasts 100 days, stemming from lost wages, lost filming dates, and other negative impacts to local businesses that support the entertainment industry.”

The proposal goes on, “Given the strike is already over 100 days, this estimate could be higher the longer the strike continues.” California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week put the economic impact of the strikes at more than $5 billion. (Newsom announced today that he will join workers and labor leaders in Los Angeles tomorrow “to sign legislation that will boost wages and support workers”.)

The WGA work stoppage ended last night at 148 days. The SAG-AFTRA halt is still ongoing, meaning that the impact there will continue.

“As we look ahead to greenlit series and writers’ rooms penning the next seasons of our favorite shows, we cannot take for granted the American film industry whose beating heart is in L.A. County,” said Horvath. “Our local incentives must be competitive to support our creative economy, along with continued investment in the industry that means so much to our identity and culture as Angelenos. I join Supervisor Barger in supporting a long-term plan to keep film, TV, and commercial productions thriving in L.A. County.”

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