Officials OK New Filming Incentive Regulations

State officials gave the greenlight to regulations that will govern California’s revamped movie and TV incentive program, with the launch expected next month.

The legislation more than tripled the amount of tax credits available to movie and TV projects, to $330 million annually, as well as expanded eligibility to include big-budget feature films, one-hour drama series and TV pilots. But perhaps the biggest change was in the way applicants will be awarded credits.

The state Office of Administrative Law gave final approval to the regulations, which were drawn up by the California Film Commission.

A lottery system, in which the prospects for winning a tax credit was left to chance, is being replaced by a “jobs ratio,” a competitive ranking system in which money would go to projects that promise a proportional return in employment.

So how will that ratio work? The ratio will be the amount of a project’s planned qualified wages divided by the amount of the tax credit they are seeking.

Instead of all producers competing against each other, the applicants will seek credits based on their category of production. The legislation actually established the allocation to each category: 40% will go to new TV dramas, movies of the week, miniseries, and recurring TV series; 35% will got to features; 20% will go to relocating TV series; and 5% will go to independent features.

Applicants also will be able to boost their ratio based on whether they will do visual effects work in California, whether they do a bigger share of principal photography at production facilities in the state, and whether their shooting takes place outside the Los Angeles zone. That last element is considered a sweetener to ensure that more parts of the state benefit from the incentives.

The application period will start on May 11 and run through May 17 for non-independent TV projects, with distributions for new TV series, movies of the week, TV pilots and miniseries, as well as relocating series.

The application period for independent projects and feature films will be from July 13-25.

There will be another application period for all types of projects in the winter.

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