New York hosted more dramatic television pilot productions than Los Angeles last year. This the first time that NYC has surpassed L.A. since experts started tracking pilot production in 2006.
The 2014 “Television Pilot Production Report” by FilmLA, which administers film and TV permits for the city of L.A. and for other regional jurisdictions, was being used to lobby for more state tax giveaways to media corporations that operate in Hollywood.
The report, released today, said that New York had 24 drama pilots in the 2013-14 “development cycle,” while L.A. saw 19 such projects produced here during that time. However, L.A. is still king overall:
FilmLA said that L.A. hosted 90 pilots total last year, with 71 of them being comedies. That's 44 percent of TV pilot production, down from 52 percent the previous year and 82 percent six years ago, according to the report.
L.A. retained 76 percent of comedy pilot production but had 100 percent only seven years ago, the report says.
Per-pilot budgets were way up last year – “more than the entire industry spends in North Carolina [a location hot spot] in an entire year,” FilmLA senior research analyst Adrian McDonald told us.
And, he said, “Straight-to-series orders were through the roof this year.” Those are the made-for-Netflix-type series such as House of Cards.
The runners up for total pilot production last year were, according to FilmLA, New York (35), Vancouver (17), Atlanta (12) and Toronto (8). The organization said in a statement that those towns “continue to gain ground on Los Angeles by attracting pilot producers with class-leading film incentive programs.”
“Incentive programs” is code for giving away your tax dollars to media moguls. Hollywood boosters argue that the well-paying jobs are totally worth it.
FilmLA president Paul Audley said it like a public radio announcer trying to get your donations:
Losing television pilots – and then series – to other North American competitors leads to the destruction of steady, well-paying California jobs. California's current incentive program makes it hard to attract and retain new pilots and TV series. The data makes plain why an expanded film incentive is needed to bring this part of the industry back.
However, a May report from state Legislative Analyst's Office concluded that ” … the film tax credit does not 'pay for itself.'”
A bill by state assemblyman Mike Gatto and Raul Bocanegra seeks to expand the amount of cash you give to Hollywood moguls from $100 annually to possibly $400 million, which is the level of New York state's incentives.
But the LAO's report wonders if this is really just a race to the bottom for taxpayers: We give more, then they give more, and media corporations laugh all the way to the bank. The report said that …
… continuing or expanding the tax credit program would reduce state tax revenues – affecting all residents of the state – while largely benefiting a single region of the state.
And let's look at who would ultimately benefit from tax breaks that aren't given to other industries: The New York-based (!!!) major media corporations – Fox, Time Warner, et. al. – that distribute film and television; white people, because Hollywood is overwhelmingly white (while L.A. is half Latino); and the often non-native Californian workforce that migrates to L.A. to work in film and TV.
These are the folks, by the way, who help drive up rents, housing prices and the general cost of living in Los Angeles.
Some politicians, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, say tax giveaways to this wealthy industry are the only way to “save” the business that has helped define the global image of Los Angeles.