California Declares War On Georgia? Just For Entertainment

Actors and extras work during the filming of the Walking Dead, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Actors and extras work during the filming of the Walking Dead, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Credit Mike Stewart / Associated Press

Atlanta is becoming more of a film capital than it has been in a long time. Television and film production is taking place all over the state of Georgia, with many entertainment projects drawn here by tax credits the state began offering some 10 years ago.

California has taken note.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed California’s own set of tax credits that will triple the dollars TV and film companies can earn there, as long as they stay in-state. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was standing right beside Brown when he signed the measure.

Yusef Robb is Mayor Garcetti’s communications director. In a conversation with WABE’s Rose Scott and Denis O’Hayer on “A Closer Look,” Robb said Georgia was one of the catalysts for California’s move to sweeten the tax credits for TV and film producers. 

Listen to the entire interview.

But he insisted, “It’s not necessarily us declaring war on Georgia, but it’s us fighting back.”  

He said tax credits that lure film industry productions out of the state of California potentially jeopardize tens of thousands of middle class jobs. Yusef Robb talks with Rose Scott about production costs.

With established infrastructure already in Los Angeles, Robb said, “we don’t have to spend as much to level the playing field,” in competition with states like Georgia. He pointed out that despite this advantage, “over time, our talent does move,” and therefore the issue of tax credits requires a long term view. Robb talks with Denis O'Hayer about the risks of entertainment firms leaving Los Angeles.

When asked about the impact that unions have on labor in California, Robb said that he does not think Georgia has much advantage as a “right to work” state. Robb said, “when talking with producers … the bottom line is, they want to get a return on their dollar” in any location.

“We have an unparalleled talent pool,” Robb said, “and I think everyone would admit that.”

Building on talent that’s already well-established in California, Robb pointed to an intersection that the Los Angeles mayor’s office is working hard to support: technology and entertainment.  Robb on the intersection of entertainment and technology.

 It remains to be seen whether TV and film production are site-specific industries, or whether the explosion of visual media means there’s enough work for everyone.