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Film Calif. First plan helps ‘Palms’ grow

Davis Entertainment Filmworks can pump up the volume on the soundtrack to its feature-length thriller “29 Palms,” thanks to the California Film Commission’s Film California First incentive program.

The FCF program saved the production company about $32,000, allowing it to invest in music rarely afforded on an indie film budget, co-producer Craig Davis Roth said.

“As producers of several pictures a year, we used to find ourselves in Canada, Utah or Europe to make our indie film dollars stretch further,” Roth said. “Now we can look to shoot in California first.”

Skedded for release this fall, “29 Palms” was reimbursed its costs for filming on state land in and around Palm Springs and Borrego Springs, and for the use of park rangers during the 24-day shoot. Roth’s production company may also be reimbursed for most of its location, film permit and public equipment fees as well as public employee personnel costs. Directed by Leonardo Ricagni, pic stars Chris O’Donnell, Rachael Leigh Cook, Michael Rapaport, Bill Pullman and Jeremy Davies.

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The Oregon Film & Video Office, in concert with the state tourism bureau, has devised an innovative approach to incentives. Productions filming in Portland or Multnomah county receive parking rebates of $1,000 for every 100 hotel room nights spent in the county, up to $3,500 per pic.

“Combined with the fact that Oregon has no sales tax whatsoever, this program makes the Portland area not only a beautiful, diverse and extremely convenient location, but an economical one as well,” said Veronica Rinard, exec director of the Oregon Film & Video Office.

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Philadelphia, hosting the currently filming Fox’s “Like Mike” with rap artist Lil’ Bow Wow, scored some good press on MovieMaker magazine’s list of the 10 best cities in North America for indie filmmakers. The city finished sixth behind Los Angeles (fourth) and Austin, Texas (fifth). New York was the sentimental favorite at No. 1.

In addition to a sales tax exemption for productions 40 minutes or more in length and no hotel tax after 30 days, Philadelphia offers the free services of three police officers per day. Sharon Pinkenson, exec director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, said the city also hosts one of the better-paid screenwriting competitions, with first prize of $10,000.

The city may be best known for its success with studio films such as “Sixth Sense,” but it’s becoming a haven for independents, having served as location since 2000 for indie pics including “The One Road Home,” “Emmett’s Mark” and “A Gentleman’s Game.”

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