Santa Clarita beefs up incentives

City council launches Film Incentive Program

Effective July 1, the City Council in Santa Clarita, Calif., will put into action a Film Incentive Program (FIP),taking the business of pic support into its own legislative hands — with the location becoming the first city in the Los Angeles area to do so.

Aimed at retaining and increasing production, the plan will subsidize permit and location fees for city-owned properties and explore opportunities to reduce the costs of safety personnel, including fire and sheriff.

The program consists of three components.

Part one virtually eliminates all permit fees, including road and property use, for Santa Clarita-based feature and television productions that lense on location in the city a majority of the time and also hire local crew.

Part two eliminates basic permit fees for feature, television, commercial and musicvideo production companies that shoot more than six times a year in Santa Clarita.

Part three provides a partial refund of the Transit Occupancy Tax paid to city hotels for production companies responsible for monthly room blocks.

TV production provides a strong economic base for the area, with HBO’s “Big Love” plus CBS’ “NCIS” and “The Unit” lensing there in addition to on-location shoots for shows such as NBC’s “Heroes” and Fox’s “24” and “House.”

Mayor Frank Ferry said: “Santa Clarita’s ability to capture television production has really offset the losses and declines most cities are feeling in Southern California.”

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Filmmakers alert: The Maryland Film Office has $2 million remaining in its fiscal year 2009 Film Production Rebate Fund (FPRF).

The money needs to be encumbered and necessary documentation needs to be processedby June 30, although production doesn’t have to begin by that date.

In addition, the film office has $1 million in funds that become available on July 1, and these may be combined with the $2 million.

Maryland’s FPRF allows a qualified production company to claim a rebate in an amount up to 25% of the total direct costs incurred in the state while shooting on location for qualifying film and television productions. Employees earning $1 million or more are excluded. The rebate is distributed in the form of a grant for productions incurring at least $500,000 in total direct costs and filming at least 50% in the state.

Contact Jack Gerbes, Maryland Film Office, (410) 767-6343.