SF costs scare away TV, movie producers

Alcatraz has long been the subject of national fascination. Even 49 years after its closing, it’s still inspiring legends, films, and books.

You can add a TV show to that list with director J.J. Abrams’ latest effort, “Alcatraz.” The new FOX series follows modern-day investigations into events following the disappearance of everyone at the prison in 1963. True to form, Abrams throws in a government cover-up for good measure.

But here’s the catch: Although it’s set in the Bay Area, and the lead character is a San Francisco detective, the show is being filmed far to the north — in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The reason? You guessed it: Money.

Much to the frustration of San Francisco city leaders, Vancouver managed to lure the production of the FOX show away from the Bay Area by offering major incentives, namely a 33 percent production tax credit.

An incentive program designed to bring TV and movie production back to The City hasn’t had the desired effect.

The problem isn’t limited to “Alcatraz” either, as the film industry in San Francisco has declined at a startling rate. Consider, for example, that in 2000, there were 2,263 film jobs in The City. Five years later, that number had fallen to just 1,100.