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3-D drives job growth in the film industry

Database developer says small, versatile firms are the trend.

April 11, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

SOUTH GLENDALE — Spurred by a renewed appetite for 3-D media, the entertainment industry is expected to remain the fastest-growing employer in the region, a trend that bodes well for job seekers across Glendale and Burbank, labor analysts said.

The Verdugo Workforce Investment Board on Thursday was presented with what analysts referred to as the first database of Glendale- and Burbank-based entertainment companies working in digital fields.

The database of some 650 local businesses would be used to give the board a detailed snapshot of the region’s specialties and strengths, and the ability to match them with emerging technologies.

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“If it matches well, that may give us a better sense of trying to focus on developing that area,” said Don Nakamoto, labor market specialist for the board.

He also planned to tap the list for future employment opportunities, and as a basis for competing for future grants and other funding opportunities.

Still, it does not include freelance workers or independent vendors, “because it’s impossible to come up with a definitive figure on employment,” Nakamoto said.

The mix of companies points to a strong presence of animation, digital sound and editing companies, said business analyst Michael Kiaman, who developed the database.

But the most significant trend is the versatile business lines of several smaller entertainment companies, who nimbly navigate across diverse areas of the industry, he said.

Areas include motion-picture editing and sound, animation, television, Internet and special effects. An analysis that accompanied the database suggested using the list to divert more workers to post-production fields because studios are still filming many projects outside the state to take advantage of tax incentives.

The multiplying effect of the industry is significant. Production of a mid-budget film of about $32 million creates some 140 direct jobs, 425 indirect positions and generates $4.1 million in sales and income taxes, according to FilmLA, a nonprofit organization that recorded 37,979 permitted production days last year, compared with 47,117 the previous year.

Because much of the economic engine across the region is consumer spending, the salaries of those working in the entertainment industry contribute mightily to the retail, health-care and manufacturing sectors, officials said.

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