Entertainment industry supporters of improving California's film-TV tax credit are planning a June 14 rally at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel.

The campaign is aimed at pressuring state legislators to sweeten the current program, which is capped at $100 million a year and 20% of production costs -- smaller than rival incentive programs in Georgia, Louisiana and New York.

Organizers, including San Francisco film commissioner Susannah Robbins, have indicated that a key component of the campaign will be to show that improving the program has strong support outside Los Angeles. San Francisco has served as the setting for recent films such as "Rise of Planet of the Apes," "Godzilla" and "San Andreas," for which only a few days were shot in San Francisco while most of the production took place outside California.

A March rally by show business vendors in the San Fernando Valley drew more than 600 attendees, and a February event organized by Hollywood below-the-line unions attracted more than 700.

Assembly Bill 1839, aimed at overhauling the current incentive program and attracting bigger movies and TV series, is being promoted as essential to keeping productions from being lured out of state. The legislation cleared its first committee hurdle on March 26 in the Assembly's Arts and Entertainment committee and has been set for a May 13 hearing at the Assembly Revenue and Taxation panel.

The bill's authors have not yet attached a specific dollar figure to the legislation.

Supporters believe that the legislation, which would go into effect in 2016, should wind up clearing the State Senate in August or September. A key state official with ties to Gov. Jerry Brown offered strong support for the legislation last week without promising that Brown would sign it.

"The direct economic contributions that the industry makes to the state are very substantial," Kish Rajan, director of the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, told several hundred industry members at a breakfast organized by the California Film Commission. "There is no greater marketing engine for that California brand than the film and TV industry."

The commission, which administers the tax credit program, will hold its lottery to choose recipients for the 2014-15 fiscal year on June 2. Demand far exceeds supply, with 32 productions selected last June out of 380 that were submitted.

The bill, the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act, would renew California's tax incentives so it runs an additional five years, through the 2021-22 fiscal year. The legislation has 59 co-authors.

The legislation would lift a $75 million budget cap on productions that are eligible for the program, and all network and cable dramas would be eligible.

 

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