State Film Incentives Have Helped My Business Thrive for Half a Century

How many businesses are involved in a typical production from start to finish? What was your favorite movie growing up?

Here in California, many productions employ hundreds of workers and dozens of vendors. Multiply that by the number of productions on any given day and the scope of our industry has a tremendous impact on the state’s economy. I’ve been fortunate to be part of this economy for many years and have seen firsthand its good times and bad.

I have a soft spot for the 1982 movie E.T., partly because my company, Galpin Studio Rentals, supplied the cars that chased around the world’s most famous extraterrestrial.Our parent company, Galpin Ford, has been around since 1946, and the studio rentals division opened in 1981. I’ve been here since then and have seen a lot of change in the industry. One of the biggest changes happened in 2009 when California initiated its film incentive tax credit program. This has helped businesses like mine expand, hire more people, and thrive in our local economy. However, California’s incentive is set to expire on June 30, 2025 – less than three years away, which has the potential to devastate countless businesses in our area if productions head for financially friendlier places to shoot their projects. We may have the perfect climate to make movies and TV shows, but if it’s less expensive to shoot in New Mexico, Georgia, or even Canada, climate takes a back seat to finance.

Fortunately, our state legislators have a chance to support local businesses by passing Senate Bill 485 and extending California’s incentive program through 2030. This is an opportunity our elected officials should not – and must not – forgo.

With some incentive programs, the benefits travel in a straight line to just a handful of companies. In our industry, the benefits radiate out in a giant umbrella; businesses, directly, and not directly, involved in film and TV benefit from California productions – and there are many.

The industry itself relies on a multitude of direct vendors for its grip, lighting, camera, prop, transportation and other needs, but it doesn’t stop there. Building supply stores, the local textile industry, supermarkets, home furnishing stores and even your local dry cleaner benefit when “Hollywood” stays in California. It’s also a clean industry, relative to most others, that now incorporates sustainability departments in all major productions.

From the largest studios to the smallest local vendors, these incentives keep local businesses– and California – running. They generate more money than they cost, and support industries that have grown to rely on local productions. If the incentives aren’t continued, production will leave California and our communities will suffer. This isn’t what might happen, but what has already happened in years passed.

In the early 2000s, production began to leave California for Louisiana, Canada, and eastern Europe, directly because of their incentive programs. Each of these locations set up their own infrastructure of vendors that, although not in quality, replicated Hollywood core suppliers, while California vendors experienced a recession-like downturn.After years in the making, the initial film incentives revitalized California’s production industry and regenerated what local businesses like mine had lost. For Galpin Studio Rentals, these incentives allowed us to grow our business and we became a critical part of this state’s vast industry. Our expansion has coincided with the rise of film incentives precisely because they have brought production back and kept it in California.

As other states and countries expand their own film and television incentive programs, our legislators must realize the importance of the motion picture industry to businesses and communities across California. They must realize that, without this, production will leave the state as they have done before.

I was drawn to the film and TV industry because it allows me to be part of something special. And thanks to these incentives, Galpin Studio Rentals has supported some of America’s most iconic film and TV moments for nearly half a century. Our legislators must support our state’s local businesses and pass Senate Bill 485 so we can continue making motion picture history right here in California.

Bob Dykes is the Director of Sales at Galpin Studio Rentals.

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