Boosted California filming incentive set to prioritise TV production

Boosted California filming incentive set to prioritise TV production

from: Nick Goundry, The Location Guide

Planned spending figures from the California Film Commission reveal that TV production will be prioritised under the state’s boosted filming incentive. State authorities are more than tripling the annual film fund and expanding support to big-budget movies and TV shoots.

While the overall film fund is being massively increased, only a third of the money will be allocated to supporting studio features. California will be focussing more on television, with a full 60% of the annual fund set aside to support TV series.

This includes nearly USD 70 million a year – from the second year of the programme – set aside to incentivise shows to relocate to California after filming their first season outside the state.

Hosting long-running TV series has obvious benefits, as internationally successful shows like Game of Thrones and House of Cards have clearly demonstrated. However, the relatively small proportion of the California fund set aside for big-budget features could make it more of a challenge for the state to compete with New York, Georgia and Louisiana, as well as international competitors like the UK.

While the film fund is being massively increased, only a third of the money will be allocated to supporting studio features.

“The statute does allow some flexibility for the commission to move money from one category to another, depending upon demand and underutilised monies in categories,” the California Film Commission’s Nancy Rae Stone told The Location Guide.

“Based on past demand, we don’t anticipate underutilised amounts of funding in any category, except perhaps the relocating TV series category.”

Recent movies like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Godzilla have been largely set in California, but have mostly filmed elsewhere partly because of the lack of incentive support.

Star Trek Into Darkness has been one of only a few big-budget movies in recent years to film mainly in California.

The boosted incentive programme is designed to ensure that shoots of this scale can afford to schedule more production time in California.

This year will be the last to include California’s controversial lottery process for allocating film tax credits. In April USD 100 million will be allocated by this method to shoots with budgets below USD 75 million, as has been the case for the past few years.

In May, however, applications will open for the boosted incentive programme, which this year will offer USD 230 million for films and TV productions. Tax credits will be allocated based on how many jobs a production is expected to create, so the system is more likely to benefit big-budget shoots.

At first only TV shoots will be able to apply for the new programme. Features will have to wait until the summer to apply, with specific dates to be announced.

Studio features with budgets over USD 75 million will be eligible for a 20% tax credit on the first USD 100 million of their California production spending. Independent films with budgets of at least a million dollars will be eligible for a 25% tax credit on their initial USD 10 million of spending.

Productions will also be incentivised to film outside Los Angeles’ 30-Mile Studio Zone, and for completing a large proportion of visual effects work in California.

From next year the total available funds for the year will increase to USD 330 million and the old lottery system will no longer be used.

(Images: Paramount Pictures / Twentieth Century Fox)

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