AUBURN, CA - When the director of the Placer-Lake Tahoe Film Office watches movies, she's looking for missed opportunities.
"We're always looking at the locations and asking 'why did they shoot that there?'" said Beverly Lewis, whose job it is to encourage filmmakers to consider the wide variety of geography available in Placer County.
"We can shoot the Austrian Alps in Tahoe and the Midwest in Lincoln," she said, pointing to the films True Lies and Almost Famous.
But Lewis said it's becoming increasingly difficult to land major projects in California.
A few scenes from the Academy Award-winning film Her were shot in the Tahoe area because the medium-budget movie was able to take advantage of California tax credits. But nearly every recent blockbuster was shot in other states or countries because California doesn't offer tax credits to films with budgets greater than $75 million.
"Of the 54 major studio films with budgets over $100 million last year, only one of them shot in California," Lewis said.
Lewis is promotingAssembly Bill 1839, introduced in Sacramento last month, which is aimed at keeping major motion pictures from leaving the state.
Although specific dollar figures haven't been agreed upon, the hope is to offer tax credits for large-budget films and to make more money available. The current tax credit program is capped at a total of $100 million per year.
Lewis said the positive impact to the state and local economies far outweighs the loss in tax revenue. She said she's especially excited about a provision in the bill that would offer financial incentives to shoot outside the Los Angeles area.
"This is a major industry in California and we stand to lose it," she warned.