California film makers to get tax credit for staying in state



Charla Teeters, Imperial County Film Commissioner demonstrating the unity behind bill 1839
Charla Teeters, Imperial County Film Commissioner demonstrating the unity behind AB 1839

Dramatically boosting California’s film tax credit program, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Wednesday a plan to triple the pot of money for entertainment companies that shoot in the Golden State.

Charla Teeters, Imperial County Film Commissioner, stood in front of the Board of Supervisors a few weeks earlier asking for a letter of support as various California film commissions fought to keep production from leaving the state.

Other locations are offering tax incentives that Hollywood is accepting as they leave California for other production locations, Teeters explained to the board. “I am asking you to write a letter to the Governor supporting a tax break here in the state.”

The board did that and bought Teeters a plane ticket to lobby personally, hoping the money brought in by film crews would make this a wise investment.

It looks like their gambit paid off.

Under AB 1839, the state’s annual tax credit program will rise from $100 million to $330 million, a move that keeps California on par with New York, which hands out $420 million a year to the entertainment industry.

Under AB 1839, which still must pass the Senate, the program’s cap will be lifted to $330 million, effective next year. The lottery system will be replaced, and instead projects will be picked on the production’s job-creating capacity. Additionally, blockbuster films and some new types of television dramas, both currently ineligible for the program, will be able to apply.

Paul Audley, president of Film L.A., which oversees film permits in Los Angeles County, predicted the new program will “have a really strong impact on what we’re able to draw back to California.”

“This keeps them shooting in California and the Imperial Valley,” Teeters said.

“Plus, there is a 5% incentive bump if they film outside the 35 mile radius around Los Angeles. Everyone was united for the betterment of California. We get more filming, the industry will stay here more often,” Teeters said.

Teeters spoke about the rally she attended through the beneficial financial assistance of the county. “It was a great experience. This was the first time I traveled to Sacramento to lobby for a passage of a bill. I got to see first hand how legislation works.”

Teeters said she had the opportunity to talk to others about the hit they experienced with the movie and film industry choosing to use other locations because of the high cost of operating in California.

“Our rally was unique. We put up green screens, had make-up crews, everyone could experience the thrill of being in a movie. We could have action playing on the screens where people could become part of a movie, it was a great experience.”

Teeters added, “I am ever grateful to the board for making it possible to travel to Sacramento and fight for this bill. This tax break will help movie companies come to Imperial County and spend their money here instead of out of state.”