Laying out the welcome mat for the film industry

With the presidential campaign in full swing, we have heard a lot of debate recently about business versus government and who creates jobs.  For my part, you know how much I support small businesses because we know that two-thirds of new jobs created are the result of small entrepreneurs.

Here in Los Angeles County, many of those small businesses are dependent on the entertainment industry.  When most people think of the industry, they think of the big names, like Disney, Warner, Fox, Universal… and those companies are absolutely critical to our region.  But we must also recognize the small companies whose lifeblood depends on the success of this industry.  In all, we must focus on protecting the more than 140,000 people who are directly employed by the film industry – and the estimated 375,000 jobs that also depend on the production of films and television in our region.

Other cities in the U.S. and around the world see the $30 billion that the industry spends in the Southern California region – and you bet they want a piece of it!  By 2010, over 40 states and numerous countries around the world offered film incentives to compete aggressively for this business.  As a result, the percentage of movies shot in California has gone from over 66% to less than 40% in a few short years.  We, on the other hand, seem to be doing everything we can to dis-incentivize the industry from staying close to home.

Late last month, I put forth a motion to the Board of Supervisors to review our film policies across the County and consider revisions that align with the new Model Film Ordinance of the California Film Commission.  Currently, the industry sees a mishmash of regulations and fees that can vary dramatically from one community to its neighbor.  To attract this business, we must have a uniform set of policies and procedures, and a streamlined permitting process across the County and its 88 cities.

We cannot take for granted our position as the center of the entertainment industry and its importance to the economic well-being of this region.  We must put out the welcome mat for filmmakers and the people who are the film industry – our neighbors and friends, so that we retain our coveted spot as the entertainment and arts capital of the world.