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Blog: A New Plan to Bring Hollywood Home—the 'Los Angeles Production Benefit'

The Los Angeles Production Benefit allows independent productions to be union films in a way that the independent production can afford to pay union wages.

Kevin James is a candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles

On September 12, 2012, I published a position paper in the Huffington Post, titled "Outsourcing Hollywood, Billions Leave Local Economy, Families Separated," spelling out the economic crisis that we face in Los Angeles and introducing the basic premise of my plan to bring Hollywood home.

As an expansion on my initial platform, I am now introducing a new plan to bring entertainment jobs back to Los Angeles. This plan is called the Los Angeles Production Benefit and it brings independent film production and union crews together.

The Los Angeles Production Benefit model is a simple and workable way to keep entertainment jobs in LA and to bring independent film productions to L.A. The Los Angeles Production Benefit allows independent productions to be union films in a way that the independent production can afford to pay union wages.

This model takes direct advantage of the "down time" of union workers and of studio space—and replaces that "down time" with good-paying entertainment industry jobs.

Here's how it works: A database of available crew members is created and maintained in the Entertainment Industry Liaison's office within the Mayor's office. These crew members are union workers with experience in film and television production and want to work in Los Angeles (set decorators, construction coordinators, prop makers, costume designers, make-up artists, camera operators, boom operators, key grips, gaffers, visual effects supervisors, etc.). 

By signing up to participate in the Los Angeles Production Benefit, each crew member is agreeing to work at an adjusted rate (to be agreed-upon between the independent production and the crew member). Independent film producers that agree to shoot their films in Los Angeles will have access to the database and will agree to hire their crew members from the database.

If a producer agrees to shoot his or her film in L.A., these union crew workers (who are otherwise off of work or in-between productions) agree to work on the independent production at an adjusted rate.  In other words, union employees in Los Angeles that are off of work are matched with independent film productions that want to make their film in L.A. and need a crew.

On the same production, in order to fill empty blocks of time on the studio lot, studios that participate in the Los Angeles Production Benefit agree to work the independent production into otherwise open schedules on the lot for a discounted rate in order to sell its services to the independent production (much like a hotel that discounts its rates to a certain level in order to sell an otherwise empty room for a night). This way, the studio is maximizing the lot's availability and the numerous jobs related to the production.

Added benefits to both sides can also occur when the independent production uses the same studio for post production. And finally, the studio could then have a first right-of-refusal for the distribution rights for the film as well. This becomes a packaged production which is a win-win for the unions, the independent production, the studio, and Los Angeles. The union crew workers and the studios keep their calendars full, independent producers can afford to be union productions and to film in LA, our city keeps film production here at home, and the surrounding economy sees significant monetary benefit.

Money that is equivalent to a tax incentive is saved by the independent film production because the union crew is working at an adjusted rateand the studio space is provided at an adjusted rate—during what would otherwise be "down time" when no money is being made by the crew members or the studio for the available space.

Independent film productions are often left out of the available California Film and Television Tax Credit Program, yet they employ thousands of Angelenos in the entertainment industry and provide great economic benefit to L.A.'s local economy. This part of my plan to bring Hollywood home is not intended to replace film incentives (which we must maintain to better compete with other states and countries that have attracted filming away from L.A.), but rather to be a realistic way to provide savings to all parties involved in the process without having to find hundreds of millions of dollars from already cash-strapped municipal budgets.

It is important to note that the Los Angeles Production Benefit model has already been implemented and achieved success with the 2012 film, The Bronx Bull. Directed by Martin Guigui, it has a cast and crew of over 150 people filmed at Universal Studios in Hollywood, the Riverfront Stages in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles, DC Stages in downtown Los Angeles, and Lacy Studios in Los Angeles.

Credit for the foundation of this plan and the success of its pilot project in connection with The Bronx Bull belongs to the film's director and writer Martin Guigui, to producer Dahlia Waingort, and to the Teamsters, the studios, and the other industry unions that were involved in the project.  

Dahlia Waingort negotiated this business model with the unions and studios and saw it through to success. I look forward to partnering with the Bring Hollywood Home Foundation and other important entertainment industry groups in Los Angeles in implementing this plan.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

catman January 13, 2013 at 03:02 PM
As somebody who works in this industry it is my opinion that if any industry needs unions protecting them its the movie industry. I have worked both union and non-union productions and the fact is producers are all (without exception) a bunch of blood-sucking vampires. They regularly violate federal and state labor laws on non-union productions because #1. the Labor Relations Board is a joke and #2 everybody and their brother wants to be in the movies so there is a never ending pool of people who will work for nothing or next to nothing just to get a credit on their resume. In order to bring productions back to Hollywood we need to start offering tax breaks like they do in states like Michigan and Louisiana. Because unions aren't the reason producers are flocking to other states to shoot their productions. Its the tax breaks they're getting. Because at the end of the day the only thing these vultures who call themselves producers are concerned about is how much money they can get away without spending.
Union Buster January 14, 2013 at 03:47 AM
Boo F*cking Hoo Cris the Communist and Catman the boob. The two of you will never have to worry you will never work on any of my productions because they are all filmed out of the country. Call me greedy as you will you stupid fools. But I have people and making great livings. In the words of Gordon Gecko greed is good.
Sansooman January 14, 2013 at 07:23 AM
There would of never been an American Revolution if we had gun control and the same mentality as the weak people of Britain.. " When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe. " " No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. " " The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. ": Thomas Jefferson No man who is not allowed to keep and bear arms is not a free man, but a slave, and the only reason for a government to want to remove that right is because it fears it's citizens because they have bad intentions and don't want to negotiate in good faith, but rather threaten because they can...There is truly peace through superior fire power, and it gives the octogenarian the same security that the gangster thug has because he can rest assured that he can defend himself. I have been to Europe many times, it is in general a safe place but, the people are weak and soft and would not stand a chance in hell if they had to defend themselves... We know
Chris January 14, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Union Buster is exactly the kind of law breaking, blood sucking vampire that catman is talking about. I'm sure his"movies" are real winners. You know,"movies" with some washed up 80's action "star". Movies to really be proud of. I'm also pretty sure that neither catman or myself, or any other crew member with an ounce of talent would ever work on one of his "productions". I hope he is happy with his piles of money that he has obtained at the expense of other peoples livelihoods. And for the record, greed isn't good, Union Buster, it's sickening. And a big childish Boo F*cking Hoo right back at you.
ruth January 14, 2013 at 06:45 PM
There is nothing in this article about NON union..or NON union jobs. The other three candidates have been too busy filling their campaign coffers with big wealthy developer's campaign contributions to have time to deal with this problem, which has affected so many. All three spent more than enough time on City Council to do SOMETHING.. Garcetti was PRESIDENT of it. THEY DIDN'T. Hollywood is Garcetti's district..He calls HIS 'vision' of Hollywood 'The NEW Golden Age of Hollywood'.. which means his higher density Hollywood Community Plan, to accommodate his Skyscraper Developer funders..they can now build what they want here, a total transformation of Hollywood as we know it..More Night Clubs (more violent shootings on our streets), more bright lights, BIllboards, and Vegasy Strips, no restoration of ANYTHING..And the REAL HOLLYWOOD? The INDUSTRY???He could care less. But he passionately pleaded with City Council to fork over tons of our money for his developer funders other project..The Hollywood Cap Park and passionately pleaded fro them to have L.A. take over the dissolved CRA,to protect his developer funder's projects, which was the ONE TIME city council members, and their legal council told him 'NO!' ..it would bankrupt L.A. for sure.. Did he ever go to bat like that for THE REAL HURTING HOLLYWOOD INDUSTRY? NO. No big bucks there for his Mayoral Campaign. Pathetic.

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