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California Tax Credit Program Lauded By ‘The Call’ Producer

Next round of selections set for June 4

California’s four-year-old production incentive program received serious support Friday from the exec producer of the Halle Berry thriller “The Call.”

Guy Louthan told about 200 attendees at the California Film Commission’s annual Locations Breakfast at the London Hotel that the tax credit enabled the production budget to be sliced from $15 million to $11 million by reducing the number of shooting days from 40 to 23. The film had been set to shoot in Ottawa until the commission moved it up the waiting list and cleared it to receive the credit.

“God bless the California credit,” Louthan said, explaining that the quality of California crews made it possible to reduce the number of shooting days — a maneuver he asserted could not have been accomplished with Canadian crews.

Louthan, who’s worked on over 60 films, said “The Call” was the first production he’d done in California in a dozen years.

“The Call,” set in Los Angles, has overperformed with $50 million at the domestic box office in five weeks. Production designer Franco Carbone and location manager Michael Burmeister also appeared on the panel to tout the credit’s value.

The California incentive program is far smaller than other states as it covers up to 25% of the budget and is limited to $100 million a year. Friday’s program offered a demonstration that productions such as “The Call,” originally placed at 83rd on the waiting list, can still qualify.

Carbone said shooting anywhere but Los Angeles would have altered the look and feel of “The Call,” which used the freeways and a Westlake Village office building as its key locales.

“Los Angeles is spread out, which is built into the film’s narrative of finding a needle in a haystack,” he added.

Burmeister asserted that getting approvals in Los Angeles is fairly simple compared with locations outside California, where officials will sometimes go back on an earlier approval. “Closing down the Terminal Island freeway is relatively easy,” he added.

California Film Commission exec director Amy Lemisch also used the event to announce that applications for the next round of credits will be accepted on June 3 with selections announced the following day. “There is no need to line up outside the office,” she added.

Riley Robbins of Governor Jerry Brown’s Office of Business & Economic Development also spoke at the event and noted that the state has allocated $500 million ($200 million in the first year) since program emerged — generating $3.9 billion in direct economic benefits, 27,000 crew jobs and 14,000 cast jobs.

“That money goes right back into the communities,” he added.

Brown signed legislation last fall extending the incentive program for two years to 2015.

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