Director for the Californian Film Commission, Amy Lemisch, spoke to the Simi Valley Council on encouraging companies to film in city

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By Debra Tash

March 3rd 2014, Simi Valley City Council meeting, Amy Lemisch, Director California Film Commission, spoke on increasing filming in the state and in local communities like Simi Valley.  Ms. Lemisch, a former producer, has been with the state Commission since 2004.  She has tried to foster a better climate for film production and be a  liaison for all levels of government.  The Commission has an online library with over 4000 sites for filming California and including those owned by the State: http://www.filmcalifornia.com/   Simi Valley belongs to the new Ventura FLICS.  Our county did not have an office location for this organization because  logoVentura County is out of 30 mile zone.  This zone was determined by picking a central point in the city of Los Angeles and then drawing a 30 mile radius from that point.  Within its boundaries production companies do not have to pay actors or crew for travel time to a filming location as they do have to pay them if they have to travel outside of that boundary.  Simi Valley is within that 30 mile zone.

The movie Water for Elephants brought 1.9 million of business to the county.  While the film, We Bought A Zoo brought in 4.2 million during their eight month shoot.The state of California has been assaulted by runaway productions being enticed to film in other states who offer them tax incentives.  There are 40 states and a dozen countries who are in competition with California for this business.   In 2009 the California legislature passed its own film and television tax credit.  The production must meet certain parameters to qualify.  Feature films under 75 million  are eligible along with hour television shows for basic cable. Made for television movies are also eligible.  Because network television doesn’t qualify filming in this area as dropped in California.  New York can boost 25% more filming compared to the state of California.  Since 2004 16,000 jobs have been lost in the state’s film industry.

The California tax credit program has marked its 5th year and 600 million in tax credits have been awarded.  Those tax credits can account for 4.75 billion spent by production companies in the state. A bill has been introduced in the legislature to extend the tax credit program and to make it more appealing to production companies.  The bill has 60 co-authors and it would expand the eligibility for tax credits to internet television and big budget films.  There is so much demand for the program the tax credits are exhausted on the first day of the fiscal year under the current law.

utopia_hztopWhen asked, location scouts and production people have said of Simi Valley that they have always had good experiences with the city.  Simi Valley is down the line in streamlining  its film permit process. Ms. Lemisch recommended that one person be assigned to the permit process to walk a film application through all the necessary departments.

The Ventura County Film Office http://www.venturacountyfilm.com/ is also building its digital library and asking for locations around the county.

 

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Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis

 

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