Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Increased California Film/TV Incentive Law

Gov. Jerry Brown Headshot - P 2014
AP Images

Gov. Jerry Brown Headshot - P 2014

The signing ceremony was attended by government officials, studio executives and Warren Beatty

California's stepped-up efforts to retain and attract movie and TV productions began Thursday when Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law legislation that increases incentives from $100 million a year to $330 million a year beginning in July 2015.

Gov. Brown, who arrived in the courtyard of Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatre accompanied by actor Warren Beatty, said that this "isn't just government or people, industry or business, it's all of us working together with a big dream for a place of opportunity."

The crowd included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and several dozen legislators and city council members along with studio executives, union and guild leaders, and representatives of both small and large businesses.

"California is on the move, and Hollywood is a very important part of that," added Brown. "We did it together, not just one political party, not just one group of people, but the coming together of politicians and movie executives" and others.

The passage culminates more than a year of efforts to make the incentives more competitive with states like New York, Louisiana and Georgia, which have steadily drawn work away from California since 2005.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who co-authored the new bill with Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, said the idea for the expansion of incentives began when he did a town hall two years ago. "A father came up to me with tears in his eyes," said Gatto, "talking about how he had been away from his family for the last 10 months in Georgia. He was not a big star and he was not a studio executive. He was a middle-class worker."

Gatto said that showed the incentives were not about the "industry," but rather about "preserving good jobs for working families."

Mayor Garcetti welcomed the crowd to the "entertainment capital of the world," and added: "Today, because of legislation our great governor is about to sign, we are going to keep it that way."

With protesters chanting in the background, Garcetti said his top priority has been jobs.

"They call the problem 'runaway production,' " said the mayor "But let's be clear — production and production jobs aren't running away from California. They are being lured away by big financial incentives from other states. Today, we fight back."

Garcetti noted the ceremony was taking place across the street from where the late Tom Sherak has a star on the walk of fame. He noted Sherak was his first "film czar" and played a key role in getting the expaned incentives package passed. "I know he is looking down on us," said the mayor.

Assemblyman Bocanegra called it a great day because "those of us in Sacramento came together in a nonpartisan fashion to produce what I believe is a home run for California. We're going to keep this signature industry — film and television — in California."

Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), who played a key role in shepherding the bill through the final stages, said "the voices of working men and women have been heard today."

De Leon said the incentives will have a multiplier effect that will boost the economy not just with jobs, but with a ripple effect that will benefit many business, and with new state taxes.

"We've got the best crews," added de Leon, "the best talent, the best infrastructure and the best weather in the world right here in California. … No more jobs in the U.K., New Zealand, Louisiana or elsewhere. Back home in California, baby!"

One of the speakers mentioned that the state money will all go to jobs in crafts and production, not to pay star salaries, as is the case in some other places.

When Warren Beatty made his brief remarks he started by noting he was "disappointed … to hear I won't be paid," which brought a laugh. He added on a more serious note, addressing all the legislators and the governor, "This means a lot. Thank you."

"Today is a day that we have worked toward for over a year," the California Film & Television Production Alliance said in a statement. "We represent small businesses, film commissions, local government officials, and most importantly, thousands of working men and women across the state who dedicated months of their lives to writing letters, attending rallies and meetings, testifying, signing petitions, and traveling to Sacramento — all with the goal of making AB 1839, the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act, a reality."