Return of lights, camera, action?

[caption id="attachment_95207" align="alignright" width="315"] Darren Aronofsky’s movie "Noah" had scenes, such as heavy rain, shot on 32Ten Studios' stage in San Rafael. (credit: 32Ten Studios)[/caption]

Assembly Bill 1839, they hope, will undo the steady attrition of the film industry in the state as tax incentives lure movie makers to places like New York, Canada, London and elsewhere.

"The days when movies were shot here in the state are long, long, long gone," said Michael Meehan, a Napa-based location manager. His work is mainly overseas and increasingly in Louisiana and Georgia, states that have aggressive tax incentive programs in place.

Arnold Schwarzenegger launched an incentive program in California during his term as governor and it was considered very successful until other locations outdid it. This year it's up for renewal, but not in its original form.

[caption id="attachment_95208" align="alignleft" width="315"] A crashing wave is recorded for "Noah" on a San Rafael compositing stage. (credit: 32Ten Studios)[/caption]

"When production leaves California, the ones taking the hit are middle class and blue collar workers, not the stars and producers," said Mr. Meehan. Instead, the behind the scenes workers are left jobless, as are the ancillary businesses that serve the production sites and teams, such as the caterers, hotels and set construction companies.

AB 1839 would remove the current credit cap of $75 million, opening the program to blockbuster movies, now almost exclusively filmed outside the state. Television series that cost over $1 million per episode will be eligible rather than those with a total budget of $1 million.

Tax incentives would be equal to 20 percent of total costs. For films produced outside Los Angeles, 25 percent would be covered, with an addition 5 percent for post-production work done in the state.

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