'It belongs here': Film industry experts discuss need to keep Hollywood production in Los Angeles

Some major companies are moving television and film production to places like New Mexico due to tax incentives, putting pressure on California state officials to create initiatives to keep the industry thriving within the state.

New Mexico has a 35% tax incentive for the entertainment industry. Netflix and NBCUniversal have both built studios in Albuquerque within the last year. 

In 2021 thus far, New Mexico has reportedly rolled in $623 million from the entertainment industry.

"There is definitely a shortage of soundstages here in Los Angeles, both in numbers and in the modern soundstages that today's productions are demanding so that's why you're seeing folks go to places like New Mexico and others," said Zach Sokoloff, the Vice President of Hackman Capital Partners and the Development Manager at Television City.

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California has always been an attractive place for film production with its variety of landscapes.

"We have all kinds of exteriors so it makes absolute sense that people would want to shoot here. If you go 40 minutes in that direction, you have the mountains, 40 minutes in that direction you have the beach and then everything in between. We have the talent here for sure, and the infrastructure. People want to shoot here. They love shooting in Los Angeles and California, but we just need better incentives and we need more space," said Tema Staig, the Executive Director of Women in Media and a producer on CAMERAderie films.

Governor Gavin Newsom just signed a bill that offers Hollywood a boost in funding. The new bill was proposed by lawmakers in July, and Newsom signed it on Wednesday. It gives the television and film industry $330 million. 

As part of the bill, $150 million is allotted for new soundstage construction in the state. Soundstages are soundproof buildings or rooms used for the production of film and television content. The bill also pushes for productions that receive soundstage credit to submit a diversity plan. It aims to create a workforce in Hollywood that's reflective of California's neighborhoods.

"We've also created a program to create new soundstages, to incentivize companies to build soundstages because one of the things that's a bit of a chokepoint is that every soundstage in California more or less is full. We want to bring more soundstages to bring permanent long term jobs in the entertainment industry to California to keep it here. It was born here. It belongs here," said Dee Dee Myers, well-known political adviser who is now a senior adviser to Governor Gavin Newsom, and the Director of California Business and Economic Development.

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Sokoloff, from Television City, also weighed in about the bill.

"It's really heartening to see the Governor and the legislature would pass the law in unanimous fashion and invest behind one of the state's largest and most prominent industries. It's rewarding productions that are embracing inclusion and bringing new, underrepresented communities into the entertainment industry so it's not just that we're recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic but that we're doing so in a way that makes the industry more inclusive," said Sokoloff.

Television City is located in the Fairfax district. Numerous shows have been taped or broadcast live at Television City and have also been the production site for several films. It's owned and operated by an affiliate of Hackman Capital Partners and has already implemented diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

It collaborated with Women in Media and its CAMERAderie Initiative to conduct a training program for women seeking below-the-line production jobs. The participants are taught several skills by experts from Television City, and other studio properties owned by HCP and operated by The MBS Group. Television City is supporting this partnership through its $1 million Changing Lenses pledge, whose goal is to promote efforts that increase equity and diversity in the entertainment industry.

"I came up with this idea of why not train more women to be involved. There's been great success stories and the students are able to get hands-on experience at actual sets and productions and at the same time, build their network. We've shown in the past month, females can actually do this industry and they're killing it. They're doing well. They're getting jobs. They're getting noticed," said Irene Phan, the Vice President of Finance and Operations at MBS Group.  

The next training session is Saturday and Sunday, July 24 and 25, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Television City, where more than 40 women will learn "Hollywood" set construction.