Business & Economy

How California's film flight has affected Angelenos

A crew sets up cameras for the filming a mobile phone commercial on-location on November 18, 2006 in Los Angeles, California.
A crew sets up cameras for the filming a mobile phone commercial on-location on November 18, 2006 in Los Angeles, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

As a father of three, Pasadena resident and assistant camera operator Eric Dyson isn't thrilled to be constantly traveling out of town for work. 

"In 2013, I worked in Louisiana three times. In the past six months, I've had to turn down work calls out of state," he said. 

Yes, California is a global leader in film, TV and video production jobs, generating approximately 60 percent of the labor income in this sector nationwide, according to Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. But these so-called Hollywood jobs have become a battleground with states like New York, Louisiana, New Mexico and Georgia offering enticing tax incentives.

The trend has undoubtedly affected Southern Californians. 

It's been "disheartening as we have watched feature film work flee the city, and television production drop precipitously. Many people have dropped out altogether," one source told us via our Public Insight Network. 

On Facebook, Rita Lilly wrote: "Finding work for a lot of nice, hard-working, middle-class people is becoming progressively harder."

In hopes of reversing the trend, California state legislators introduced a bill last week that would expand the types of films and TV productions that qualify for the state's $100 million tax credit program.

"Right now we're getting our lunch handed to us by these other states," Assembly member Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) said in a statement. "We simply can't sit by and watch this $17 billion a year sector of our economy continue to leave California." 

But it's not just other states. In the post production music industry, scores are being recorded overseas. Ayana Haviv has been a SAG-AFTRA singer since 2003 and in the past decade, she said she's noticed both big- and low-budget films cutting costs by recording their orchestras abroad. 

She's in favor of the new  legislation and if it were up to her, she'd even take it one step further. 

"I would carve out 20 percent of the qualified expenditures for post-production, the way New York does," she wrote on KPCC's Facebook page. "This would give an incentive for production companies to stay here for music..."

After all, "No place has the climate we have. No star would prefer to shoot in the sweaty arm pit of the of the Southern states," wrote Dyson. 

Tim Jones, who works as a microphone boom operator in Los Angeles, believes part of the solution is educating the public. 

"I don't like subsidies or tax credits but we have to compete with states and countries who use them to attract projects," he wrote. "We must educate the general California public that this isn't for the good of rich producers and actors; it's for the general good of the California economy."

Have you been affected by California's film flight? Share your story in comments, or through our Public Insight Network here

For more on the topic, you can stream our Forum event 7:30 p.m. Thursday where we'll discuss how to keep production jobs local. You can also follow along via Twitter with the hashtag #HollywoodJobs