California’s film-TV production tax credit program has yielded $5.49 billion in total direct spending from $700 million in credits since 2009, a new report shows.
The California Film Commission, which administers the program, also said that the credits have provided $1.72 billion in below-the-line wages.
The agency issued the annual progress report Wednesday in an attempt to demonstrate the value of the program — which is narrower and less lucrative than rival states such as Georgia, Louisiana and New York — and comes with the State Senate and Gov. Jerry Brown facing a decision in the next two months on whether to approved a significant expansion of the program.
“Based on average aggregate spending by projects from each fiscal year to date, each $100 million allocated will generate $770 million in direct production spending, including $245 million in payroll for below-the-line workers,” the report said. “For every $100 million in tax credits allocated, productions will hire an estimated 8,700 cast and crew members and utilize 10,000 vendors. Collectively, they will also employ more than 66,000 daily hires as extras.”
The current program supplies $1o0 million in tax credits to productions shot in California. Most of the allocations go to returning TV series such as “Teen Wolf” and “Pretty Little Liars” but only 26 of the 491 applications were selected in a lottery this year.
The report includes an analysis of the fate of projects that had applied for the California tax credit but were denied.
“From 2010 – 2014, these ‘runaway’ projects accounted for nearly $2 billion in production spending outside California — an economic blow to state and local governments, not to mention the state’s below-the-line production workers and businesses that rely on the film/TV production industry,” the report said. “Notably, all these projects were filmed in states or countries where incentives were available.”
The report found that for the fiscal year ended June 30, projects that applied for California tax credit but were not selected spent $1.02 billion outside California — or nearly five times the $211 million spent within California.
Most selected projects receive 20% allocations, but TV series that filmed all previous episodes outside California are eligible for a 25% credit. The reports notes that series that have relocated to California and received the credit include “Important Things with Demetri Martin” (from New York), “Torchwood” (from U.K.), “Body of Proof” (from Rhode Island), “Teen Wolf” (from Georgia), “Let’s Stay Together” (from Georgia) and “Being Mary Jane” (also from Georgia).
The commission received nine applications from TV series hoping to relocate from other locations such as Georgia, Vancouver, Canada, North Carolina, and Louisiana. But only “Being Mary Jane” was qualified for a $5.2 million allocation on $21.1 million spending and is now planning to move this year from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
“The remaining eight series are on the waitlist and do not plan to relocate without a tax credit,” the report notes. “Moving an established TV series is costly and requires detailed advanced planning to dismantle, transport and rebuild sets, relocate cast members, find comparable locations, etc. all within a tight time-frame. On the plus side for California, when a show relocates here the economic impact can be significant throughout the life of the series.”
The report noted that “Teen Wolf” has generated $162 million in spending in California during its three seasons in the Golden State with a total of $70 million in wages and 150 cast and crew jobs each season.