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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

Valley Thrives Off the Film Industry

The city of Los Angeles is being left behind by television and film productions looking for a friendly environment. While it is not exactly news that feature length films are heading out of state to places that are more inviting to business such as New Mexico, Louisiana, Michigan and New York, we are now losing a significant portion of television production. It was recently reported that only two of the 23 new one-hour television dramas slated to air for the new fall season will be shot in Los Angeles County. This disturbing number will impact thousands of jobs in Los Angeles County and, more specifically, the San Fernando Valley. According to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, a 22-episode season for a network series has an average budget of $60 million and generates at least 840 direct and indirect jobs. Such a dramatic loss of jobs will be harmful to the San Fernando Valley region, as many of the businesses that benefit the most from this industry are located in the Valley. The local economy would also suffer as the Valley supplies much of the food, equipment and other services to productions in Los Angeles. The economic vitality of the Valley is directly tied to the sound stages, studios and the action of “Hollywood.” At the end of the 2012 legislative session in Sacramento, legislators voted to pass a bill to extend the California Film Tax Credit Program through 2017. The Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) has been pushing for this extension authored by Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes, which will help grow the Valley economy. Tax credits will encourage filming to stay in Los Angeles and bring in new filming that might otherwise be headed out of state. It is a step forward in preserving the millions of jobs created by this industry. While the fight continues to preserve our film industry there are a number of media and entertainment companies who continue their work in Los Angeles. These companies have invested in and are active members of the Los Angeles Community and have been for decades. San Fernando Valley Companies such as NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Company have had enormous success in Los Angeles. NBCUniversal employs nearly 10,000 local workers. Many of their employees are in the San Fernando Valley region, based in the aptly-named Universal City. With such a strong economic impact from their operations, NBCUniversal has a vested interest in the continued success of the local community. Their new Evolution Plan, which will expand Universal City’s studio space, post production facilities and revitalize the theme park, is NBCUniversal’s latest investment in the growth and vitality of the community. NBCUniversal stands poised to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and infuse the local economy with more than $4 billion during construction and operation of the Evolution Plan. CBS is also working to keep their filming in Los Angeles. Their studios film many shows on their lots throughout Los Angeles and the Valley. CBS employs 4,500 Angelenos and contributes more than $3.2 billion annually to the Los Angeles economy. Besides filming for major motion pictures, CBS also contributes to the Los Angeles economy through two television stations and their advertising branch, CBS Outdoor. As an active partner with LA Metro, CBS Outdoor is responsible for managing the advertising program which has contributed more than $130 million dollars to LA Metro, a critical infrastructure system in the Valley and beyond. The critical importance of a thriving and economically viable film and television industry cannot be underestimated. If companies believe there is no long-term viability for this industry in the Valley, the impact will not be just on runaway production to other states but a wider, more direct impact to numerous sectors of the local economy. Television and movie production has been synonymous with Los Angeles for decades. While it is easy to believe that our region’s cornerstone industry will always remain intact, this simply is not the reality of today’s competitive market. With technology that allows filming almost anywhere, it is not implausible that the film and television industry may just up and leave the region. It is imperative that more advancements, such as the California Film Tax Credit Program, be made in order to encourage filming to stay in Los Angeles. Do you believe the newly extended tax credit will be enough to keep the film industry in the Valley? What else can be done to prevent the television and film industry from vanishing out of Los Angeles? Email your responses or thoughts about the column to lisa@vica.com.

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