“It used to be about location but now it’s really become a money game,” said Washington commission managing director Suzy Kellett. “You need to have something in the money game and at this show, it’s easy shopping.” Incentives hunt Lemisch, who said studio film production declined by 50 percent in 2006 in California from the year before, held a morning VIP event at the Bel Age hotel where she and regional film commissions in California met with studio representative and production companies. “I wanted to isolate and remind people that there’s a whole state out there,” she said. “A lot of these newer areas are feeling growing pains because they can only handle so many productions at a time. There is no other place in the world that can handle pilot season.” But California still falls behind its rivals on one key factor determining location sites: financial incentives. Rival locations are using money to successfully land projects at a time when studios and production companies are trying to lower their bottom-line costs. Still, AFCI President Robin James said, even if the out-of-state film commissions want to take away movie production from the Los Angeles area, it really is the most logical place to have the event. “I see it as a natural development,” said James, chief executive officer of the Pacific Film and Television Commission in Queensland, Australia. “The reality is that Los Angeles remains the global production center for films. That hasn’t changed. However, film commissions around the world, backed by their governments, are keen to get into the film production business.” Those involved in the local film industry said the reality is that people are losing their jobs to runaway production and that, in the end, the entire economy suffers. Steve Dayan, business agent for Teamsters Local 399, said this week that it is “aggravating and frustrating” that California has not been able to counter with some significant financial incentives of its own to discourage the runaway production. Several bills have died in the state Legislature in recent years, and there are no new bills close to being put to a vote. Cry for help “It’s hard for us and we’re tired of crying `help,”‘ said Dayan, whose union represents studio drivers, casting directors and location managers, among others. “We have to keep up with the competition. “We’ve got members who are now living in Louisiana, they’ve left the state. They’re gone. Sold their homes and are not paying taxes here. That’s a drain to our local economy. We have gone year after year to Sacramento to lobby for incentives and we have been shot down every time.” Steve MacDonald, president of FilmLA Inc., which handles the permitting process for the city and surrounding areas and tracks location production activity, said local feature film production has decreased in eight of the past 10 years. “We understand why these other states and countries are here,” MacDonald said. “We just wish the policymakers understood.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3758160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA MONICA – Inside the convention hall Thursday at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium hung a large banner that read: Shoot it in California. Around the banner, the booths of 20 of the Golden State’s regional film commissions tried to stand out among more than 260 exhibitors from around the globe and the rest of the U.S. – all hoping to lure feature film and television production away from here. The aggressive courting is going on at the Association of Film Commissioners International, a three-day conference and trade show that will end Saturday. “We’re certainly feeling the heat from the competition, which is intense,” said Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission. “I think it’s very important for California to have a presence. We still have the largest infrastructure with soundstages and postproduction facilities and equipment. We also have the talent pool with actors and behind-the-scenes talent.” But the list of rivals, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and such states as New York, New Mexico and Louisiana, is growing. And the out-of-staters couldn’t care less that the event is being held in what is still known as the movie capital of the world. “Our interest is in bringing production to Hungary; that’s what we are paid for,” said Zsuzanna Danya, who represented her country’s film commission. “People are looking for good quality and price and that’s what we offer.” Danya and others on the convention floor said the first question they’re asked almost always is, “What incentives do you have?” The Washington state film commission is taking a direct approach with a large display that asks “Need cash?” It then lists in large print various incentives, including an up to 20 percent cash return on qualified in-state expenses, with a $1 million cap for each production.