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California poised to sweeten film tax credits to keep productions from leaving

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Hoping to keep film production in California, lawmakers have moved to quadruple tax subsidies for location shoots.

The state Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill Thursday that would boost total subsidies to $400 million a year, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/1AjMo3Y ).

The vote came after months of lobbying by a coalition of entertainment industry unions, studio representatives and Los Angeles city officials, including Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The measure must still be approved by the full Senate and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. But supporters say they are confident it will clear the remaining hurdles, saying there is widespread recognition that California is losing one of its signature homegrown industries to other states.

"There is no question this will make a difference," said Bill Mechanic, a veteran film producer and former chief executive of Fox Filmed Entertainment.

The legislation also would eliminate a controversial system in which film and TV productions win tax credits based on a lottery system, regardless of the economic effect of the production, the Times said.

Feature film production in Los Angeles County has fallen by half since 1996, and the region's share of TV pilot production has fallen 73 per cent since its peak in 2007, according statistics compiled by Film L.A. Inc.

Most states now offer lucrative incentives for filming, awarding about $1.5 billion in film-related tax credits, rebates and grants in 2012 — up from $2 million a decade ago, according to the newspaper.

Garcetti, who has made fighting runaway production one of his priorities, flew to Sacramento this week. He and several other mayors met with the governor to make their case for more funding.

"This represents a responsible and significant investment in the future of California's middle-class," Garcetti said.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com

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