State film commission details 28 projects to share in $100 million

As the California legislature considers a five-year extension of the state’s production tax incentive program, its film commission has identified the 28 projects that will share $100 million in incentive coin this year.

Indie projects are tabbed to receive 53.5% of the tax credits while studio projects will receive 46.5% of the credits as part of the program aimed at preventing production companies from moving their projects, jobs and spending out of the Golden State.

Projects identified Monday included feature “10 Things I Hate About Life,” starring Haley Atwell, and TV series “Body of Proof,” “Franklin and Bash,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Rizzoli and Isles,” “Switched at Birth” and “Teen Wolf.” A total of 322 productions submitted applications, nearly double the number last year.

The third season of “Body of Proof,” which moved last year from Rhode Island to California, received the top allocation with a $12.1 million credit. The second season of MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” which is moving to California from Georgia, was second highest with $10.4 million, followed by TNT drama “Rizzoli and Isles” with $7.5 million and four ABC Family series, “Bunheads” ($7.1 million), “Jane by Design” ($6.7 million), “Pretty Little Liars” ($6.6 million) and “Switched at Birth” ($6.6 million).

The state’s 4-year-old tax credit program was extended for a year in October when Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1069 on the final day for the governor to approve or veto bills from last year’s legislative session. Last year’s bill was sliced from five years to one in the Senate Appropriations Committee amid expressions of uncertainty over the positive economic impact of the tax credit.

The final $100 million will be allocated in July 2013 unless the program is extended. Two weeks ago, the State Assembly Revenue and Taxation committee approved a new bill extending the Film and Television Tax Credit Program by an additional five years and another $500 million, setting up a hearing later this month by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Showbiz producers and unions have been strong supporters of California’s program, which has doled out $400 million in tax credits to date. Many in the biz say the state has not gone far enough to combat runaway production with meaningful incentives. But the program faces an uphill climb in getting renewed in Sacramento as some legislators question the need to give tax breaks to Hollywood.

“Once again, the number of applications we received far exceeded our expectations,” said California Film Commission exec director Amy Lemisch. “It’s clear that despite fierce competition from other states and nations, the industry is eager to remain at home in California.”

The lottery resulted in the selection of 10 features and 10 series along with two series that relocated to California, five telepics and one miniseries.

Based on information provided by each applicant, the film commission said these projects will spend more than $683 million in California, including nearly $265 million in qualified wages, and employ an estimated 2,900 cast members, 2,800 crew members and 57,000 extras/stand-ins.

One studio feature was tapped — Paramount Insurge’s “OT Beach” with a $1.4 million credit. Other indie features include “Ape” ($776,917), “Baggage Claim” ($2.04 million), “The Boy Next Door” ($679,902), “Brother Jonas” ($377,569), “Carry Me Home” ($683,622), “Jesus in Cowboy Boots” ($374,724), “Plush” ($701,513), “Rememory” ($351,703) and “Walk of Shame” ($2.5 million).

A coalition of unions including the DGA, SAG-AFTRA and 13 IATSE locals issued a statement of support. “We welcome the jobs that will be created by this year’s allocation,” it said. ” The California production incentive ensures that our members can continue to work in California’s heritage entertainment industry-entertainment and that our industry can continue as an integral part of our state’s economy as it has been for almost 100 years.”

The state selected 27 projects last year on the first day of the application period, although 74 ultimately received credits from last year’s $100 million tax credit allocation due to the large number of smaller independent projects that moved from the waiting list to receive credits as larger projects withdrew from the program.

The credits will be awarded only after production is completed.

California’s program, which offers a maximum rebate of 25%, is far smaller than those of other states. The Golden State’s program provides for $10 million of the $100 million to be reserved for indie films with minimum budgets of $1 million and maximum qualified expenditure budgets of $10 million while feature films with budgets up to $75 million are eligible for a 20% credit. TV movies and miniseries with a minimum budget of $500,000 are eligible for the 20% credit.

TV series that formerly filmed all previous episodes outside California, as well as indie films, are eligible for a 25% credit. “Body and Proof” and “Teen Wolf” are the two series that qualify.

Recent productions that have received the state credit include Warner Bros.’ “Argo,” indie features “Bachelorette Party,” “Decoding Annie Parker,” “Lovelace,” “Lowdown,” “Suicide Kings 2″ and “Trust Me.”

A coalition of unions including the DGA, SAG-AFTRA and 13 IATSE locals issued a statement of support. “We welcome the jobs that will be created by this year’s allocation,” it said. ” The California production incentive ensures that our members can continue to work in California’s heritage entertainment industry-entertainment and that our industry can continue as an integral part of our state’s economy as it has been for almost 100 years.”

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