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Film Incentive Program Could Boost Local Economy

The California film industry is getting a big financial boost if they continue to use the Golden State for the backdrop of films and television shows.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1839, the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act.

The film “Sideways” put the spotlight on the Santa Barbara wine industry 10 years ago, and that film isn’t the only famous movie with a local backdrop.

“‘The Graduate’ was shot here, go back to the ‘Ten Commandments,’ they shot here. A lot of great films, but in the last couple years, we haven’t seen it,” said Geoff Alexander, the Santa Barbara County film commissioner.

The new program is looking to change all of that by offering up money if the film industry works in California. Other states have given financial incentives to Hollywood to use their states instead.

“And they just frankly invested more than what the state of California was willing to do, and so we’ve seen this really unfortunate trend of runaway production. And so finally we are fighting back, we are reinvesting in California and trying to keep those jobs here,” said Alexander.

This effort is increasing the previous film incentive amount from $100 million to $330 million a year for the next five years.

Alexander acknowledges some people are questioning the amount, but he said studies show the state will actually make money.

“And actually there’s one from UCLA that showed for every dollar that California spends on this, we actually get a $1.11 back. So this is money that’s coming back into the state, which will then be utilized by the state for things like teachers, police, fire, public services and this is an investment that really pays for itself,” he said.

Some Santa Barbara County locals think the money will be well spent.

“We are a film-centered city. So I think it’s great and California is beautiful. People should be shooting here. Don’t go someplace else,” said Sharon Hall, a Summerland resident.

“By Gov. Brown doing this, he is creating the incentive for the film industry to consider shooting here more often,” said John Aaron, a Summerland resident. “It would pay off for the state for us to be doing a lot more of the movie work that used to be here.”

The Santa Barbara Film Commission and Visit Santa Barbara are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the film “Sideways” with a free screening of the movie on Oct. 5 at the Arlington Theater. For more information, click here or log on to

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