Just ask any of the thousands of unemployed film and television
production workers whose homes have been repossessed, whose families are
without healthcare and whose future pensions are more fragile than ever.
For them, the devastation is real.
The film industry in California has played a major role in creating our
Golden State, promoted it as a tourist paradise and established our sunny
shores and fertile valleys as the undisputed home turf of the American
It is sadly ironic that this land of opportunity is now abandoning so
many below-the-line production workers the people who don't get the top
billing and big bucks whose contribution to our state's prosperity is
In the last five years, Canada, Ireland, England, Australia and other
countries have established aggressive tax subsidies that are luring
motion picture and television productions to these locations in droves,
bringing along high-priced actors and directors while leaving more and
more of our skilled technical workers and artists unemployed.
This is particularly galling when most of these productions are telling
stories about America, set in America and impoverishing Americans in the
What has been done about this situation in the past five years?
Until past year, nothing.
In 1999, in concert with thousands of unemployed and underemployed film
and television production workers, I introduced Assembly Bill 358 to
create a 10% tax credit for the labor costs of below-the-line workers.
This bill would not subsidize high-priced talent or studio executives,
but it would help level the playing field for the endangered California
professionals and technicians who are really responsible for everything
that goes into creating the lights, camera and action.
In June, an independent study, The Monitor Report, commissioned by the
Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild reported that the U.S.
economy lost $10.3 billion in 1998 because of runaway production. The
statistics for 1999, when complete, will paint an even more discouraging
Unfortunately, instead of performing the heroic act of passing A.B. 358,