In a full page ad in Variety on Thursday, Governor Newsom urged film and TV productions in Georgia and Oklahoma to move back to California to take advantage of new tax credits and to film in the state that doesn’t limit freedoms, such as the right to an abortion.
For several years, due to TV and Movie shoots moving to other areas of the country such as New Mexico, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Georgia, California was been increasing the number of tax breaks for film studios, as those have become the sticking point for many budget-conscious film shoots. These efforts have been largely successful, as the number of shoots occurring in California have been moving back up from a low in the late 2010s, California has poached many productions from other states, and the industry rebounded quicker than originally thought in 2021 following pandemic restrictions. While some states, such as Michigan, could not compete and ended film credits, others like Georgia countered with even more and grew as well.
At the same time, many in the entertainment industry began to severely question filming in some states following major statewide decisions. In particular, many in Hollywood began to complain of filming in Georgia following the 2021 voter ID law being enacted, as well as Georgia’s stance on abortion with their six week abortion ban coming into effect following the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
With California now on the verge of passing Senate Bill 485, authored by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge), which would extend the annual $330 million in tax incentives for qualified film and tv productions to 2030, as well as quickly becoming an abortion sanctuary state, Governor Newsom decided to take advantage of the situation. On Wednesday he announced his intent on signing SB 485 once passed, and on Thursday he released yet another ad in a major publication, on the heels of his now infamous Florida TV ad and Texas newspaper ad, which many commentators believe are his way of preparing for a possible presidential run.
Newsom’s Variety ad
In his Variety ad released on Thursday, titled “Hollywood: Your values, Your choice.”, Newsom said that “California is the best place in America to create. For 100 years, we’ve been the home for storytelling and storytellers. Together we built a creative community that includes unrivaled cast, crews, craftspeople, infrastructure, and technology. Robust tax credits and other incentives. The best culture. Most importantly, we share your values. So now, it’s time to choose.
“Today more than ever, you have a responsibility to take stock of your values — and those of your employees — when doing business in those states. California is the freedom state.
“California ensures the freedoms to tell your stories, to access healthcare including abortions, and to love who you love and to ensure your LGBTQ friends, family and colleagues can proudly be who they are. California also offers freedom from repressive state governments that want to tell you what to believe and threaten you with felonies if you don’t toe their line.
“So to those in Power to make decisions about where to film, where to hire, where to open new offices, we in California say: Walk the walk. Choose freedom. Choose creativity. Choose California.”
Today, Hollywood will wake up to this ad.
Time to choose.
You can protect your workers, or continue to support anti-abortion states that rule with hatred.
We’re here for you. We’re extending tax credits for those that come home to the Golden State.
Choose CA. pic.twitter.com/9Bcmc6zpdu
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) August 3, 2022
Unlike the Texas and Florida ads, which have been seen as backfires by many, the Variety ad has many in the industry saying that it may actually have an effect.
“There’s a lot of liberal and left-leaning people in the industry, from producers to the lighting crew,” stressed Max Kohl, an entertainment industry analyst of productions across the US and Canada on Thursday to the Globe. “We’ve seen many Disney employees not wanting to go to Florida or those in Florida asking to go back to California, as well as other productions seeing people saying they wished to spend as little time as possible in the state. And there are some places that actors really love filming besides LA, like New Mexico, New York, and Vancouver.”
“But right now, many productions refuse to even film somewhere if they don’t get a tax credit. So that’s why places like Georgia have blossomed over the years, even though a lot of people hate filming there. They won’t say it out loud, of course, but they hate the humidity, the culture down there, the racist history that many rural shoots can shore up, drive times which are worse than LA for many shoots, and many other things. California isn’t exactly perfect either, but there are more shooting positives in LA, But those tax credits hold firm.”
“So this is significant. Not only is California expanding tax credits once again, but they are touching on other things people in Hollywood hate, and that includes abortion bans. This can honestly really encourage many to move back to California. With tax credits now coming in again, it’s basically asking Georgia and Oklahoma productions where they stand on the issue.”
“Many people may try and mock this ad or just dismiss it as political, but it really brings up a major production shifting issue that many studios are debating on where to shoot things in the coming years. Newsom isn’t exactly beloved in the film industry, but to many there, this scores him a definite point, especially for those wanting more shoots to go back to California.”
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has yet to respond to the ad, but noted earlier this week that “When the pandemic struck, we worked hard in Georgia to communicate with our partners in the Georgia film, TV, and streaming industries. Together, we forged a safe and appropriate path to allow the film industry to return to operations and deliver Georgia Made productions to eager consumers all around the world – even when some states continued to stay shut down and stifle the industry’s return to normalcy.”
As of Thursday afternoon, studios have also yet to respond to Newsom’s ad.
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