A “right-to-work” state, Arkansas initiated a production incentive program in July. Features, documentaries, musicvids, TV episodes and even trailers are covered, provided a production company spends at least $50,000 in state within a six-month period, with 15% of all qualified production costs eligible for a rebate. An additional 10% rebate is available for below-the-line personnel who are full-time residents of Arkansas. Post-production expenses are also eligible for rebate.
Key contact: Christopher Crane, Arkansas Film Commissioner
Arkansas Film Commission: arkansasedc.com/business-development/arkansas-film-commission.aspx
In July, California began administering its five-year, $500 million tax credit production incentive program. A 20% tax credit can now be applied to crew and local vendor costs; above-the-line personnel are exempt. For a series that relocates to California, the credit is 25%. Productions are chosen by lottery.
The state has 50 regional film offices, and some California cities also offer deals in addition to state incentives. San Francisco refunds city costs and payroll taxes paid to the city during filming of up to $600,000 per production, provided a show lenses a majority of principal photography within city/county limits. For shows based in Santa Clarita that hire locally based crew, the city will subsidize most permitting fees and refund hotel taxes. In October, Los Angeles established some incentives: free parking in city lots after hours, business tax credits for business owners that allow filming for free and expanded film permit powers for FilmLA.
Key contacts: Amy Lemisch, director, California Film Commission; Stefanie Coyote, San Francisco Film Commission
California Film Commission: film.ca.gov
San Francisco Film Commission: filmsf.org
City of Santa Clarita Film Office: filmsantaclarita.com
Film LA: filmla.com
Minimum expenditures for Connecticut’s transferable tax credits have been revised and will go into effect Jan. 1. Tax credit amount is dependent on the production’s total expenses or costs, from 10% to 30%. As of Jan. 1, a production will be required to conduct at least 50% of its principal photography days or 50% of its post-production in the state to be eligible, and no out-of-state expenses will qualify. Talent salaries are capped at $20 million and, to be considered in the total expenditures, must be subject to the state’s personal income tax.
Top facility: Connecticut Film Center, Sonalysts Media Group
Key contact: George Norfleet, film division director, Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism
Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism Film Division: cultureandtourism.org/cct/cwp/view.asp?a=2126&q=302556&cctNav=|
New London Film Commission: filmnewlondon.com
New Milford Film Commission: filmnewmilfordct.org
As of July 1, the state has $10.8 million in funding for production rebates via its Film, TV and Digital Media Incentive. Film, TV, commercials, musicvideos, indie films and interactive entertainment are eligible for rebates that vary from 10% to 22%, depending on the production spend, whether local crews are hired and type of production. Indie films and documentaries as well as multiple commercials and musicvid productions can apply as well, with differing criteria for qualified spends. The state has 60 regional film offices to help navigate locations and incentive programs.
Top facilities: Universal Studios Florida; Telemundo Studios Miami; Big Time Prods.’ Ice Palace Studios, Miami
Key contacts: Lucia Fishburne, state film commission; Susan Simms, L.A. liaison/state film commission; Jeff Peel, director, Miami-Dade Office of Film & Entertainment; Suzy Spang, VP, Metro Orlando Film & Entertainment Commission
Film Florida: filminflorida.com
Miami-Dade Office of Film & Entertainment: filmiami.org
Metro Orlando Film & Entertainment Commission: filmorlando.com
Since May 2008, Georgia has been offering a 20% tax credit for qualified spending. An additional 10% tax credit is available for approved productions that imbed an animated Georgia promotional logo within the finished product. Qualified companies can also utilize an immediate point-of-purchase sales tax exemption that can save productions up to 8% on most below-the-line materials and service purchases or rentals. There are no project or funding caps.
Top facilities: Tyler Perry Studios, Atlanta; Turner Studios, Atlanta; Riverwood Studios, Atlanta
Key contacts: Bill Thompson, deputy commissioner, Film Music and Digital Entertainment Office; Jay M. Self, film services director, Savannah Film Commission
Georgia Film Music and Digital Entertainment Office: georgia.org/GeorgiaIndustries/Entertainment
Savannah Film Commission: savannahfilm.org
In June, Kentucky created an incentive that provides a refundable income tax credit of up to 20% of approved production expenditures. There is a $500,000 minimum spend for features and TV productions; commercials are eligible with a $200,000 minimum spend. A 6% sales tax refund for qualified production expenses remains in place, but producers can opt in for only one program. Walt Disney Co.’s “Secretariat” is the first film to qualify for incentives.
Key contacts: Todd Cassidy, director, Kentucky Film Office; Nina Clooney, chair, Kentucky Film Commission
Kentucky Film Office: kyfilmoffice.com
Effective July 1, Louisiana upped its fully transferable film tax credit to 30% of total in-state expenditures. If Louisiana residents are hired, 5% of their wages and salaries qualify for a labor tax credit, with a wage cap of $1 million per individual. There is no cap on the amount of tax credits a single production can earn. Additionally, producers have the option of transferring credits to the state for 85¢ on the dollar. Jefferson Parish sweetens incentives with a 3% cash rebate for qualified local spends.
Top facilities: Raleigh Studios Baton Rouge at the Celtic Media Center; Second Line Stages, New Orleans
Key contacts: Chris Stelly, director, Louisiana Film & Television Office of Entertainment Industry Development; Jennifer Day, director, New Orleans Office of Film & Video
Office of Entertainment Industry Development: louisianaentertainment.gov/film/default.cfm
New Orleans Office of Film & Video: filmneworleans.org
Jefferson Parish Film Office: filmjeffersonla.com
Baton Rouge Film Commission: filmbatonrouge.com
Productions that shoot at least 50% or spend half of their production budget in the state are eligible for a 25% tax credit for all production-related expenditures. From pre-production through post, filmmakers are eligible for 100% sales tax exemption for production-related items purchased in the state. Minimum spending is $50,000; digital media projects and documentaries are now eligible to participate. There are no caps on credits that individual projects can receive, and there is no cap on total number of credits in a given year. The tax credit applies to below- and above-the-line personnel, with no salary caps, provided the individual pays Massachusetts state income tax.
Top facilities: Two major soundstages are on the drawing boards: Plymouth Rock Studios and Southfield Stages; two others are proposed for Boston and Lowell
Key contacts: Nicholas Paleologos, director of the Massachusetts Film Office; Mary Chiochios, director of operations, Massachusetts Film Office
Massachusetts Film Office: mafilm.org
Berkshire Film and Media Commission: berkshirefilm.com
Boston Film Bureau: cityofboston.gov/arts/film/default.asp
Michigan has the U.S.’ most generous film tax credit program. The state offers a 40% refundable or transferable tax credit on film and TV spending in-state. The minimum budget for a qualifying project starts at $50,000. Productions can claim an additional 2% (42% total) for expenditures if filming is done in one of 103 “core” communities such as Detroit. Echoing New Mexico’s film crew advancement program, there’s a 50% credit for salaries of those Michigan-based crew receiving on-the-job training. Additionally, the state offers a 25% infrastructure investment tax credit.
Key contact: Janet Lockwood, director, Michigan Film Office
Michigan Film Office: michiganfilmoffice.org
West Michigan Film Office: wmta.org/west-michigan-film-office-68/
Film Detroit: visitdetroit.com/index.php/film-detroit
Wayne County Film Commission: reelwc.com/index
New Jersey offers a 20% tax credit for qualified production expenses, provided the production meets certain criteria: At least 60% of the total project expenses, exclusive of post-production costs, must be incurred for services performed and goods used or consumed in New Jersey. There is also a 20% corporate business tax credit available for companies producing digital media content. Some purchases necessary for production (like lumber and hardware to build sets) are exempt from the state sales tax.
Top facilities: Rollercoaster Studios, East Hanover; TriStar Studios, Fairfield; MediaMix, Allendale
Key contact: Steven Gorelick, exec director New Jersey Motion Picture & TV Commission
New Jersey Motion Picture & TV Commission: njfilm.org
On June 30, New York City’s “Made in NY” program ran out of funds (though legislation is pending that may change that). However, New York state’s 30% tax credit for production expenditures remains in place, with $350 million allocated in 2009. Allotment is based on a first-come, first-served basis. Productions in New York City are exempt from sales tax on production-related goods and services; there are no fees for permits, public locations and police assistance in the five boroughs.
Top facilities: Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard; Silvercup Studios in Queens
Key contact: Pat Swinney Kaufman, exec director, N.Y. State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and TV development
New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and TV Development: nylovesfilm.com
City of New York, Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting: nyc.gov/html/film
Nassau County Film Office: nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/filmcom/
As of Jan. 1, North Carolina’s film tax credit incentive will rise from 15% to 25%. A $250,000 minimum local outlay is required, and there is no cap on the fund; however, there is a per-project cap of $7.5 million. Post-production expenses qualify as well. Other exemptions: sales tax and hotel tax relief for productions.
Top facility: EUE Screen Gems added a 37,500-square-foot stage to its existing nine-stage lot in 2009.
Key contact: Aaron Syrett, director, North Carolina Film Office
North Carolina Film Office: ncfilm.com
Charlotte Regional Film Office: charlotteusa.com/Film/film_resources.asp
Wilmington Regional Film Commission: wilmingtonfilm.com
Durham Film Office: durham-nc.com/film
Piedmont Triad Film Commission: piedmontfilm.com
A “right-to-work” state with no personal income tax, Tennessee’s film, TV and commercial production incentives include up to a 32% cash rebate of qualified production spends. Once a production spends more than $1 million, an additional 15% kicks in from the state. Salaries and personnel fees are capped at $250,000 per individual. Some P&A expenses, such as DVD manufacturing, are also covered for those companies based in-state.
Top facilities: NorthStar Studios, 821 Entertainment, Paragon Studios
Key contact: Perry Gibson, executive director of the Film, Entertainment and Music Commission
Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission: tn.gov/film/film
Chattanooga Film Commission: chattanooga.gov/EAC/2919_ChattanoogaSETNFilmCommission
East Tennessee Television and Film Commission: ettfc.com
Nashville Mayor’s Office of Film: nashville.gov/ecdev
Memphis and Shelby County Film and Television Commission: memphisfilmcomm.org
Recently, Wisconsin capped the refundable tax credit program for film, TV and videogame productions at $500,000 annually until June. (Fiscal year 2010-11 will also have a $500,000 cap). A minimum outlay of $50,000 is now required to be eligible for incentives, which include a 25% credit on salaries paid to state residents making $250,000 or less and a 25% credit on qualified production expenditures in state; 35% of the project’s total budget must be spent in Wisconsin to qualify.
Top facility: RDI Stages, Milwaukee
Key contacts: Scott Robbe, Film Wisconsin; Dave Fantle, Milwaukee Film Office
Film Wisconsin: filmwisconsin.net
Film Green Bay: filmgreenbay.com
Milwaukee Film Office: visitmilwaukee.org/media/milwaukee-film-office
As of July 1, Utah restructured its Motion Picture Incentive Fund. The state now offers up to 20% of expenses spent in state in the form of a cash rebate or refundable tax credit. Based on a minimum $1 million in-state production spending, the fully refundable tax rebate is not brokered; the state cuts production companies a check whether or not the company is based in state. Expenditures must be made in state; there is a $500,000 cap on the cash rebate; there is no cap on the refundable tax credit. For productions under $1 million, there is a 15% cash rebate available. Also available: a sales and use tax exemption on TV, video and film equipment. Hotel room taxes may be refunded as well.
Top facilities: Salt Lake Studios and Silver State in Salt Lake City; Moab: standing Mexican town set;Western towns: Salt Lake City;Heber: the Heber Western Town.
Key contact: Marshall Moore, director, Utah Film Commission
Utah Film Commission: film.utah.gov
Park City Film Commission: parkcityinfo.com
Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission: moabcity.org/filmcommission
Puerto Rico offers up to a 40% transferable tax credit. Qualifying expenditures must be paid to a Puerto Rico resident or entity. Expenses include equipment, crew, travel (if through a local travel agency), hotels and any other local expenses during pre-production, production and post-production. To qualify, a production must shoot 50% locally or spend more than $1 million locally. Up to 50% of the cash invested as equity in the project may also qualify, provided the film entity or corporation organizes its financing structure in Puerto Rico.
Key contact: Mariella Perez Serrano, exec director Puerto Rico Film Commission
Puerto Rico Film Commission: puertoricofilm.com