Faulconer aims to bring film, TV production to San Diego

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SAN DIEGO -- At a meeting Thursday of the City Council's Economic Development Committee, Mayor Kevin Faulconer's staff outlined plans to reinstate an office that would attract and coordinate film and television production in San Diego.

The mayor has proposed spending $125,000 in the fiscal year that begins July 1 to get industry feedback on how such an office should be structured, and another $141,000 to hire a program manager.

Additional funds are being sought by the county to help support the project. Up to $400,000 in public contribution is anticipated to be allocated.

The proposed office would replace the San Diego Film Commission, which stopped being funded two years ago. The commission was credited over the years with arranging to have such films as “Top Gun,'' “Jurassic Park'' and “Anchorman'' shot in San Diego.

There has been little production in town since the television series “Veronica Mars'' ended a couple of years ago.

“Historically, the film commission -- when properly funded and supported -- has proven to be a robust economic engine, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in the region,'' Karl Backus, of the still-existing San Diego Film Commission Foundation, said at a City Council budget hearing last month.

Restoration of funding for a city film office would dovetail with state efforts to bring production back to California. Many films and TV shows are shot out of state now for economic reasons.

According to Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, an expanded state tax credit was bestowed this week by the state Film Commission on 11 productions, including four TV series that will continue production in California: ``American Horror Story,'' ``Hindsight,'' ``Secrets and Lies'' and “Veep.''

Atkins said Tuesday that the 11 projects will receive a total of $82.8 million in tax credits and are expected to generate $544 million in direct in-state spending.

“We expanded the Film and TV Production Tax Credit because this iconic industry needs to stay in California and because we want to create good jobs in productions and in the small businesses that service them,'' Atkins said.

The last fiscal year, the city of San Diego tallied 750 film production days, according to the mayor's office.

While Faulconer's $3.2 billion proposed spending plan for the 2015-16 fiscal year has not received much criticism, numerous members of the public joined Backus before the City Council last month to urge approval of the funding.

Recently, several council members asked to have $485,000 added to the budget so the film office could have four other employees -- one to handle public relations and marketing, another to act as a community liaison and location coordinator, a third to be a permit coordinator and a fourth to focus on administrative tasks.

The extra money was not included in a list issued Wednesday of items recommended for addition to the final budget by the city's Independent Budget Analyst's Office.