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Promoting Films on The Coast:
A Visit to the Capitol for AB777

By Debra DeDeGraw
CEO Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce
June 1, 2006
Fort Bragg Advocate News

I just returned from Sacramento where I attended Legislative Day. For those of you who have never been, this is the day when constituents make appointments to, see their legislators to ask for support of bills and to say hello.

I was there with a group of people that included the director of the California Film Commission, Amy Lemisch, and her staff, along with VIPs from the film industry, such as Sony Pictures, and film office representatives from areas such as San Mateo County, Monterey, Humboldt, and many others to support AB777.

We met with Assembly member Patty Berg in her office to discuss how AB777, the tax incentive, would help attract filming back to out state and our area. As many of you know, the last major feature film we had in Mendocino and Humboldt counties was "The Majestic" with Jim Carey.

When major motion picture or independent film production companies are considering our location they are looking at the bottom line and am asking about tax incentives. They are looking at the remoteness and the expense that they will have to factor in for bringing crews and equipment here. Since we don't have all that they need, they have to consider the expense to make it happen, and a tax incentive would help offset these expenses.

The jobs that are lost are the below the line jobs, such as carpenters, electricians, and so forth. The actors, producers and directors will still have work if the production leaves California. But the impact on lodging, restaurants, hardware stores, caterers, and so forth is not favorable. Then there is the footprint left behind and the tourism dollars that follow. At the Charmber we still receive phone calls and emails requesting information on the inn where the 1978 film "Same Time Next Year" was shot. Heritage House in Little River still draws fans to this day because of the film.

Patty Berg requested that I encourage our board of supervisors, lodging association, city councils, and the Chambers of Commerce in our county to send letters asking for support.

If a state like New York, with a similar filming history and infrastructure to California, can put together a tax incentive program and have their legislators pass it, California should be able to do this, too. This is a bipartisan effort, which would benefit business and the economy. It is a clean industry that comes in, creates a product, cleans up and goes home after spending much- needed money in our state and hopefully Mendocino County.

There are currently 26 states in the union that have enacted motion picture production incentive legislation and nine others have bills Pending.

New York's incentive generated approximately $500 million in production spending in 2005, creating thousands of good jobs. Because of this success, the state increased its incentive program budget to $60 million annually and the City of New York is in the process of increasing funding to $30 million annually. California needs this bill. Please send comments to me a Charnber2@mcn.org.



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