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California Production Incentive Program Selects 18 of 246 Applications

Independent film producers have submitted 246 applications to the California Film Commission for a total of $10 million in tax credits in the final round of the program before the commission launches its expanded program in May.

A total of 18 projects were selected, underscoring the fact that demand far exceeds supply — which has spurred California lawmakers to triple the size of the program for the next five years.

California Film Commission director Amy Lemisch disclosed last month that $90 million of the first $100 million for the 2015-16 fiscal year will go to continuing the allocations for TV series that are returning for another season. Projects shot in California can receive up to 25% of qualified expenditures.

The commission accepted applications Wednesday at its office in Hollywood and, with assistance from a City of Los Angeles fire chief, conducted the seventh and final annual lottery — which selects projects at random for conditional approval subject to review for eligibility and program compliance.

The lottery was not open to studio projects, defined as those produced by publicly traded companies. The complete list of projects approved via the lottery for tax credit allocations will be released on July 1, the first day of the state’s fiscal year, and the first day credits are available.

The seemingly massive allocation for returning series for 2015-16 was not a surprise, given that more than $77 million of the $100 million available for 2014-15 was allocated to a dozen returning series, led by $11.5 million for “Teen Wolf,” “Rizzoli & Isles” with $8.9 million, “Pretty Little Liars” with $8.4 million and “Major Crimes” with $7.9 million.

The expanded program has allocated $330 million per year for the next five years, with $230 million in credits left for the 2015-16 fiscal year. The new law ditches the lottery system and sets percentages — 40% for new dramas, movies of the week, miniseries and recurring TV series; 35% to features; 20% to relocating TV series and 5% for independent features.

The commission will replace the lottery with a new jobs ratio program in May. The application period for $55 million in TV projects and $28 million in relocating TV series will be May 11-17, while the application for features films is July 13-25.

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