Film & TV Tax Credits Fact Sheet: What they are and what they mean for California musicians

What are film/TV tax credits?

Movie and television incentives are tax benefits offered by many regions in the U.S. and abroad to encourage film/TV production in that region. These incentives began in the U.S. in the 1990s in response to the flight of movie productions to countries such as Canada. Today, these tax incentives are offered by countries around the world, and most states in the U.S. such as California, New York, Louisiana, New Mexico, Virginia, Georgia and Ohio.


How have tax credits impacted the industry worldwide?

Tax credits — whether they’re in California or any other state, or abroad — have become part and parcel of film and television financing. Financiers of a film or television project will look to maximize tax credits wherever they can in order to subsidize the production budget. It’s often said that now, when a film or TV show is being planned, the first very conversation is about the location of available tax credits! In general, tax incentives do not create NEW employment; instead they shift jobs from one state or country to another. As the number of tax credit programs around the world has grown, the number of films released to wide distribution each year has remained steady (or even shrunk).


But what does all this have to do with music scoring?

Music scoring, as a key part of post-production, follows a different timeline and budget than pre-production and filming – but music scoring has followed the money as well. Generous tax incentives that cover scoring in London and other venues have resulted in tremendous losses for musicians in California, as project after project is planned and financed right here at home, but filmed and then scored overseas.


What is “runaway” production/post-production, and what do tax credits have to do with it?

Runaway production/post-production refers to the exodus of jobs relating to the film/TV industry that originate in Hollywood or elsewhere in the California but were lured to other regions by more enticing tax credit programs.

How does California’s Film & TV Tax Credit Program work?

Since California created its own Film and Television Tax Credit Program in 2009, it has proven to be one of the state’s most efficient and proven economic development tools, generating more than 50,000 jobs and $4.7 billion in direct spending as of 2013. The program received a significant boost in 2014 with AB 1839, which upped the program to $330 million annually.


What does the CA Tax Credit Program currently say about music scoring?

While the current program does include a small added bonus as an option for post-production work done in-state, it has not worked to bring any new music scoring jobs to California.


Why do musicians want to update the CA Film & TV Tax Credit Program?

California has seen music scoring work plummet in the last two decades in the face of runaway post-production. The Film & Television Tax Credit Program is a significant factor in bringing more production-side work back to California, but improvements are needed to ensure fair treatment for the professional musicians who rely on jobs creating the soundtracks to motion pictures and TV shows as their primary way to earn a living.


What would AB 1300 change relating to music scoring in CA?

AB 1300, sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, introduces language that would for the first time create a long sought-after system for supporting musician jobs in California. AB 1300 would bring home music scoring jobs for thousands of California musicians; data shows that each score employs at least 150-200 different musicians, and that the wages, benefits and residuals generated by that employment create good middle class livelihoods. Musicians are optimistic about the opportunity to fully participate  in the great success of the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program.

Learn more about AB 1300 here.


One thought on “Film & TV Tax Credits Fact Sheet: What they are and what they mean for California musicians

  1. Pingback: AB 1300: Let’s bring music-scoring jobs back to California! | 47 Blog | AFM Local 47

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