The Board of Supervisors Tuesday authorized the formation of a committee to research ways of bringing more film and television business to Riverside County.
"There are things we can do," said Supervisor John Benoit, who joined Supervisor Jeff Stone in proposing the establishment of a committee. "We can take steps toward becoming the most friendly place in California to shoot a TV show or movie."
Stone said the county's diverse topography makes it an ideal place for entertainment industry projects.
"I believe that with all the attributes of our county -- deserts, mountains, wine country, beautiful lakes -- we have all the sites that a production company would be looking for to stage a production ... Our message should be: 'We'll make it easy on you.' Let's throw out the red carpet, offer a non-bureaucratic process and let them do their business."
According to the supervisors, a "model" ordinance is needed to eliminate fees and ensure expedited handling of film and TV companies' requests to set up shoots locally.
The Blue Ribbon Committee will seek input from industry players on what can be done to attract Hollywood projects and compete for business bound for other locations, particularly Canada, according to county Foreign Trade Commissioner Tom Freeman.
"The goal is to make Riverside County 'the most film- and television- friendly county in the nation' and bring back production crews to the county and its 28 cities," he said.
So-called "runaway production" has led to billions in lost revenue to California, as well as tens of thousands of lost jobs, according to FilmLA.com and other sources.
By one estimate, the number of studio-backed feature films shot in California dropped from 66 percent in 2003 to less than 40 percent last year.
According to Freeman, because of its hefty tax breaks for labor and other incentives, Canada remains a big draw for many projects that originate in the U.S. He used the city of Toronto as an example, noting that the $1.13 billion in location film and television spending there last year represented a 25 percent increase from the year before.
Freeman said American film and TV production companies have spent an estimated $2.2 billion in Toronto over the past seven years.
In 2009, the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program went into effect. However, there's a backlog of companies applying for the 20-25 percent credits for labor. The program is limited to $100 million in credits annually.
According to the OFT, a single 5-day TV episode creates 165 jobs and generates about $2 million in revenue to the community where it's shot.
Members of the Blue Ribbon Committee will include representatives from area convention and visitors' bureaus, the Inland Empire Film Commission, the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership and the 28 cities.
Benoit's said there are already plans for a county Web page dedicated exclusively to advertising the plethora of possible filming locations within the county.