Pacific Coast Region Filming

Pacific Coast Region Filming

from: Nathan Hoturoa Gray @

The scenic diversity of the Pacific Coast Region calls to even the most knowledgeable filmmakers. Featuring some of the country’s most attractive coastlines, mountain ranges, deserts and rivers, this heart and soul of cinema has produced a plethora of classics throughout time.
Whether it’s the Redwoods of Northern California, sublime beauty of Crater Lake in Oregon, crystal-clear beaches of Hawaii, or majestic beauty of Mount Rainier in Washington, there’s plenty here to woo international audiences. The Pacific Region’s long history of production has attracted all the major studios while amassing huge numbers of talented industry professionals and state-of-the-art facilities. And the region’s ongoing efforts to ramp up its already enticing tax incentives and marketing strategies will ensure that the Western arm of America continues to attract a healthy slice of the global production market.


 Since her appointment by Governor Schwarzenegger back in 2004, California Film Commission Director Amy Lemisch has worked hard to get an incentive package up and running to help stem the tide of runaway productions heading out of state. Enacted in 2009, the California Film & Television Production Tax Credit Program offers feature films (with a budget range of $1 million to $75 million) and new basic-cable TV series a 20-percent tax credit. Additionally, the state offers a 25-percent tax credit to TV series (that have filmed all prior seasons outside of California) or an independent film (with a budget range of $1 million to $10 million in qualified expenditures).


Currently serving under Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., California now has an overwhelming demand for its tax incentive package with a waiting list of over 100 films. And while its limited $500 million budget doesn’t cater to big-budget productions, the Los Angeles region has still managed to magnetize a significant proportion of films as well as reality TV shows, one-hour series, low-to-medium-budget independent films and commercials. (The tax break doesn’t work for commercials, half-hour shows or reality TV series.) According to FilmL.A., the not-for-profit community-benefit organization that coordinates permits for Los Angeles shoots, filming in L.A. County increased by 15.4 percent in the third quarter of 2011 when compared with figures issued at the same time in 2010; and TV production in Los Angeles increased by almost 6 percent driven by a rise in reality TV shows (up 30.4 percent), sitcoms (up 12.6 percent) and pilots (up 88.5 percent).FilmL.A. President Paul Audley reports that Los Angeles feature-film production increased by almost 50 percent for the quarter, with eight feature projects qualifying to receive state credits from the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program. These projects have been solid job creators by generating 12.5 percent of overall feature-film production. State-qualified feature films that were shot locally include Gangster Squad (starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Sean Penn), Argo (directed by Ben Affleck), This Is Forty (directed by Judd Apatow), Breaking the Girl, My Mother’s CurseThink Like a ManWe Have Your Husband and He Loves Me. Other major projects driving up feature-film activity in L.A. include Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, Savages (directed by Oliver Stone) and End of Watch (starring Jake Gyllenhaal).


These figures also mirror the increase in San Francisco’s filmmaking activity, which rose by 26 percent throughout 2010–11, according to Susannah Robbins, executive director of the San Francisco Film Commission. Much of the increase is due to the Scene in San Francisco Rebate Program that rebates up to $600,000 per TV episode or movie project shot in the city. This has attracted many productions, including Milk, La Mission, Contagion, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the television show “Trauma.”“I knew that the city would be photogenic, but the real surprise was how efficient and cost effective it was to shoot there,” says “Trauma” Producer Stephen Sassen, who’s full of praise about shooting in San Francisco. “We had a first-class crew, 95 percent of which was local, the cooperation of the Mayor’s Office and all city departments, including the police and fire departments, and a warm reception from local residents and business owners. I look forward to my next opportunity in San Francisco.” The Scene in San Francisco Rebate Program has also just been expanded to include reality TV and documentaries, and there are refunds to permit fees available for productions budgeted at less than $3 million, if 55 percent is shot in the city.
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