Tax breaks produce surge for film industry in Los Angeles

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Legislation signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown last year that offered more generous state tax incentives for film and TV production is being credited for a spike in the number of location shoots across Los Angeles.

The local industry is also getting a boost from Hollywood newcomers including Amazon, Netflix and Hulu as they increasingly produce original programming, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

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There were 2,057 shooting days for scripted television shows filmed on location in the Los Angeles region for the three months that ended Sept. 30. That's a 54 percent increase from the same period last year, the newspaper said, citing data from industry tracker Film LA.

The law signed by Brown in Sept. 2014 more than tripled California's tax credit to $330 million a year for films and TV shows produced in California.

Behind-the-scenes businesses like caterers, lumberyards and equipment vendors say they are hiring more workers, expanding offices and buying new equipment in response to the uptick in local production. Unions representing crew members say they are operating at or near full employment and are adding new members to meet the demand, according to the Times.

"We've never been this busy in California in the 17 years since we opened," said Robert Lamkin, whose Chef Robert catering company services film and TV sets.

Seven of his eight food trucks are working out of Los Angeles. That's a big switch from a few years ago, when the majority of Lamkin's fleet was in Detroit, Chicago, Boston, New Orleans and other cities where production crews had moved to take advantage of tax breaks.

A revival of these small businesses is a positive sign for LA's overall economy. The entertainment industry employs about 250,000 people and contributes nearly $60 billion in goods and services annually, or roughly 10 percent of the county's gross product, said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

"This is an industry that increases the size of the economic pie here in the region, so to have more activity come back to Los Angeles will have a ripple effect on businesses large and small," he told the Times.

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