L.A. Film Czar: Assembly Action On Movie/TV Incentives 'A Great Vote Of Confidence'

Sarah Hummert/Invision for Producers Guild/AP Images
Ken Ziffren

Kenneth Ziffren says he and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti are looking forward to working with others on legislation to create and keep good industry jobs statewide.

The passage by a California State Assembly committee Tuesday of a bill to extend and expand tax credits meant to keep movie and TV production in California has gotten a thumbs up from Los Angeles’ film czar.

Kenneth Ziffren, who heads the city of Los Angeles Entertainment Industry and Production Office – which has strongly supported AB 1839 since it was introduced in February -- said this shows there is real support for the proposed legislation. The bill passed by a vote of seven to zero with bipartisan support.

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"The Assembly Committee's unanimous backing represents a great vote of confidence in how the state tax credit improves our statewide economy,” Ziffren tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Mayor Garcetti and I look forward to working with our leaders in Sacramento to pass legislation that creates and protects good jobs across the state."

Ziffren, who is also a prominent entertainment industry attorney, was appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti in February as film czar, a post that is primiarily about lobbying the state for more support for the industry.

He has worked toward passage of this legislation with a number of groups, including  the California Film & Television Alliance, which sent about 40 representatives to Sacramento to attend the hearing of the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee.

The next hearing in about one month will be before the Assembly committee on revenue and taxation. Then it goes before the Assembly appropriations committee and on to the full Assembly for a vote.

With more than 70 of 100 Assembly members co-sponsoring,  the bill is expected to pass. Then it’s on to the state Senate, where there is not as much of a groundswell as in the Assembly.

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If it makes it through all of that, then it would go to Governor Jerry Brown for a signature. The Governor has not made any commitment yet but has signed incentive bills for the past two years.

At some point  after mid-May, a dollar amount will be attached to the legislation. The current incentive program, started in 2009, spends $100 million a year but backers of this bill to want to see that quadrupled – at least. They say that is what it will take for California to be competitive.

There are currently more than 40 states and a dozen countries offering  financial incentives to attract productions in addition to the California program. Many of those programs – as well as city, country, regional and state programs in California --  are represented this weekend at the Locations Expo in Century City, which goes on through Saturday.