California Forum

A volunteer to help actress make her indie film in Sacramento

Greta Gerwig wants her coming-of-age film to be shot entirely in Sacramento, but without a tax credit, it may not work out.
Greta Gerwig wants her coming-of-age film to be shot entirely in Sacramento, but without a tax credit, it may not work out. Sacramento Bee file

I will help Greta Gerwig make her movie here, and I believe thousands of other Sacramentans will, too.

The Sacramento region has churned out an increasing amount of talent in front of and behind the camera. While the region has a robust film community, it is terribly underfunded. To solve the complex problem, we must not be complacent.

Over the years, California allowed some of the film industry to escape to other states and countries that offered tempting incentives. Add a crippling recession, an exodus of taxpayers and a loss of real-estate-based financing, and you have a recipe for disaster for the film industry.

The biggest mistake we made as a state, as far as moviemaking is concerned, was ignoring the digital revolution and rise of independent films.

Years ago, I spoke until I was blue in the face about incentives for indies. I suggested we combine several small indie-produced films to represent the financial impact as one studio project. I cranked out statistics of jobs created when represented as a group of independents – not just as a one-off. I tried to develop infrastructure in the pit of the recession, demonstrating to investors that we could create an “Indiewood” district.

I served on several of the mayor’s “For Arts’ Sake” committees, touting the benefits of having indie filmmaking in Sacramento. The canned response was that Hollywood was the home of filmmaking in California, and we don’t need incentives.

Now we are trying to claw back the film industry, and we are still looking to Hollywood to do it.

I have always argued that creating a Hollywood North is a stupid idea when we already have Indiewood here. But with the economy picking up, the idea of an Indiewood district is fading, unfortunately. And the fraud case of Carissa Carpenter’s studio project in Dixon sullied the idea of local production, making it more difficult to fund moviemaking in Northern California.

Sacramentans are always saying we just need a celebrity to come back and help the community. Well, now we have someone who is willing to go through the process. So, who is going to support her?

Greta has her work cut out for her, but I will stand up to help. Others will stand with me. It is time that we fill the financial gap with incentives offered through the city of Sacramento, Sacramento County and the state.

We need a program that offers incentives to local indie films. We need businesses to back indie projects. We need to show our hospitality and create a welcoming atmosphere that attracts repeat business. We need to continue to develop and support local talent and artisans. We need to make it easy to get permits to shoot indie productions. And there are many more ideas and ways to show support for indie films in Sacramento.

We have some support for the performing arts, visual arts and digital arts, but that support needs to grow.

I am not waiting for Hollywood. Who will stand with me and say, “Welcome Greta! We are here to help, and we’re open for business”?

Christina Marie is a filmmaker, arts advocate and executive director of Capitol INDIE Collective. Contact her at