Every day I read something about tentpoles, super hero movies, big productions and franchises that promise the public a greater and more exorbitant experience. The average budget for a movie kept rising steadily over the last few years, while the number of productions decreased.
And just a few think about what big shift is happening in these years for who works behind the scenes…
L.A. has historically always been the mecca of movie makers, the promised land where all big productions were happening, and the elective location for the elite of the Industry. But in the last years, due both to tax competitive advantages in other US States and abroad, and to the availability of less expensive labor, productions have been massively moving out of Los Angeles.
The new James Bond has being shot in Rome these days, something that goes in parallel with an increased tax incentive for foreign productions. Alaska has the most attractive tax scenario in the US, and guess what? Unscripted TV series shot in the wilderness flourish. Canada follows close. The British Prime Minister aggressively pursues a policy of grass feeding for big budget movies. Pinewood expands to be à l’avanguarde for VFX.
Everybody knows that shooting in the Czech Republic is much more convenient than doing it in Germany, and why should you shoot in Germany, anyway?
Netflix goes to the middle east, and to Mongolia if necessary. And the advantages go far beyond the fiscal profile. First thing: there are no unions outside the United States. Locations cost probably much less and the crew will for sure cost much less.
So who stays in L.A. is forced to rethink the condition of its survival. A few migrated to States where the tax incentives are higher, and therefore the chances to get a pilot and possibly the next TV series are higher. The ones who stay should adapt to sinking payrolls, since, as A. Smith teaches us, a high offer lowers the price of your product.
But a poorer crew, that struggles to find a job and spends months waiting for a phone call, means also that the quality of the job will decrease. The amazing professionals that built worlds from dust, the ones who made us dream with their lights, and shots, and incredible costumes, all those real talents are now fighting to survive and no one seems to notice, no one will help.
It’s sad to be in L.A. and to recognize that film is no more here.
Not because it went somewhere else, but because it went to all places, and to none in particular. Because film moves like a dinosaur that smells the tornado from the distance.
In L.A. you still close the deals. Here stays the money, here stay all the lawyers that draft contracts valid in this world and in ANY OTHER, those who lost contact with the bone of the structure, those who run numbers, those who write the check.