Assemblyman Scott Wilk toured Santa Clarita Studios and other film locations Friday with fellow lawmakers to get a peek at a few sound stages and get a feel for the impact of California’s newest film and television tax incentives.
Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, was a principal co-author and strong champion for the expansion and extension of the film tax credit.
AB 1839, the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act, became law last year.
The deal included increasing the tax credit to $330 million a year for five years beginning in fiscal 2015-2016.
The film tax credit replaced the former lottery system with a more competitive and accountable system.
Wilk’s invitation to fellow legislators and tour of Santa Clarita Studios had multiple purposes.
“One, to thank them for their votes last year for the film and television tax credit. Two, so they can see how well it’s working and number three, a bill of that magnitude, there’s always some glitches, so learning about some of the things we can need to do to tweak it to make it even more effective to keep television and film here in California,” Wilk said.
The status of the film industry in the Santa Clarita Valley is currently in its sixth year of growth.
“Last year was a record year, $33 million dollars in film and television, and I expect that to go up even higher this year,” Wilk said. “The film tax credit just kicked in but the anecdotal stories that we’re hearing is it’s really made a positive impact, so I expect another banner year.”
Michael A. De Lorenzo, president of Santa Clarita Studios, said his company started with six sound stages when the studio opened in 1989. Today, it boasts 16 fully functioning sound stages ready for whatever Hollywood has to throw at them.
“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “The Player,” “Melrose Place,” “Franklin and Bash,” “Vegas,” “The Riches” and “Switched At Birth” are just a few of the television shows that have filmed at Santa Clarita Studios.
De Lorenzo said there is no shortage of competition when it comes to studio filming.
Georgia, New York and Louisiana currently have the best tax credit programs in the country and are drawing more and more filmmakers and production companies to the east coast, De Lorenzo said.
“AB 1839 film tax credit bill helped out tremendously. It’s a great start in the right direction and much appreciated by the film community. However it doesn’t compare to the current tax credits offered in states like Georgia, New York and Louisiana,” De Lorenzo said.
Production companies spend three and a half million dollars per episode on average, De Lorenzo said.
“Ten years ago, Atlanta had very little, if any, film infrastructure. By the end of next year they are on track to have 65 sound stages at their disposal,” De Lorenzo said.
President and CEO of Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation Holly Schroeder echos De Lorenzo’s sentiments for the tax credit.
“Santa Clarita is such a strong community for filming,” Schroeder said, “these incentives to bring productions back to California are really critical for our future.”