warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Hollywood No Longer The Stuff Of Movies?

Sarah Collins |
December 9, 2013 | 1:49 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

A view of Los Angeles from behind the famous Hollywood sign (Neon Tommy/Sarah Collins).
A view of Los Angeles from behind the famous Hollywood sign (Neon Tommy/Sarah Collins).
Many a song, television show, and movie are centered around Los Angeles and Hollywood. The big name directors, the streets with stars left and right, the lavish Oscar and Golden Globe awards… They don’t call it the “Movie Biz City” for nothing. 

On the cinematic subject - according to the Teamsters Union - Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom shared some stifling statistics: “We are getting our clock cleaned in terms of productions not just by the usual suspects like Canada and New Zealand, it’s notably states like Louisiana, New York State, Michigan, New Mexico, Georgia. They’re offering huge incentives—up to thirty, in some cases forty, percent rebates—on production and so we have to reconcile that."

And the number of states keeps expanding. The Illinois SB 1816 recently passed, effective Jan. 1, 2014, which modified the current 30% tax credit for filming to include Above-the-Line talent up to one million dollars without residency requirements after the first $100,000 per individual. This bodes well for the state in terms of increasing jobs and infrastructure, but what about the place where “The Biz” all started?

Curtis Collins, a Los Angeles film location manager for over thirty years and, de facto, my father, discussed his thoughts on the matter: “The best crews and businesses are here in LA, and a lot of them have been forced to find jobs in other fields or go out of business due to the lack of work. In fact, it used to be called ‘Runaway Production’ when a film was out of state or the country, but now we call it ‘Ran-away’ because it’s gone. There are very few films made in Los Angeles anymore. It’s primarily commercials and television. And what films are made here are generally low budget films.” 

For those lucky enough to keep their jobs, the work is still an emotional strain. “I’ve worked in Michigan – Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Dearborn; Atlanta, Georgia, and surrounding communities around Atlanta,” said Collins.

In fact, my high school memories were etched largely in his absence; it was rare to have my father home in Los Angeles for extended periods of time. 

Several public state figures, Lieutenant Governor Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti included, are in favor of expanding film and television incentives, though others like Senator Lois Wolk, have a different opinion. She released the following statement on the film tax credit issue: 

“I’m not a fan of tax credits in general. In fact, I’m a real skeptic of all of them and have done everything possible to limit their size and duration and to build in as much accountability as possible. With respect to the film credit, when we extended it in 2012, I insisted on a study by the Legislative Analyst Office, to be completed by January 1, 2016. We should at minimum wait for that study before we even consider increasing the amount or extend it any further.” 

So why does this all matter to Angelenos not involved in the film industry? It accounts for 91,146 direct jobs and $17.0 billion in wages in California. “It’s people’s lives and livelihood, and the film industry is the heritage of Los Angeles,” Curtis Collins said. “Once it goes it’s gone. We’ve lost so many important industries in Southern California, like the aerospace industries and various manufacturing jobs. Soon there won’t be any skilled jobs left in California.”

Reach Staff Reporter Sarah Collins here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.