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Show-Biz Workers to Rally in Sacramento

July 05, 1999|Stephen Gregory

Hoping to staunch the flow of U.S. film and television productions to other countries, especially Canada, thousands of entertainment industry workers and professionals are expected to descend on the state Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to implement tax breaks aimed at keeping domestic movie and TV shoots from fleeing the state.

Sponsored by the Film & Television Action Committee (FTAC), a grass-roots collection of grips, camera operators, writers and others who earn their living making movies and TV programs, the rally will try to push state senators to pass two bills approved by the Assembly in June that would provide 10% tax breaks for film and TV production in California.

According to a recent report commissioned by the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America, nearly $3 billion in film and television production spending and 23,500 jobs fled the United States--the vast majority from the Golden State--last year. Nine out of 10 went to Canada, where a weak Canadian dollar and government financial incentives can lop as much as 26% off the cost of producing a feature film or television show.

FTAC Chairman Jack de Govia, a production designer, said similar tax breaks in California could help stem the loss of film and TV projects and jobs. "It's a really good deal for California," De Govia said. For example, he said, a TV show that costs $25 million to make could pump as much as $75 million into the economy in the form of direct and indirect spending by those associated with the production. And that could ultimately spark more state tax revenue than the tax breaks would cost, FTAC argues.

Assembly members Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) and Scott Wildman (D-Los Angeles) introduced two tax-break bills in February, Assembly Bills 484 and 358, that were recently passed. The state Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation will consider the bills Wednesday, and De Govia said Tuesday's rally is aimed at getting committee members' attention.

Dubbed "High Noon in Sacramento," the rally is expected to include scores of "production vehicles," including giant camera cranes, grip and electric vehicles and prop trucks that will circle the Capitol to call attention to FTAC's concern about so-called "runaway productions."

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