Hot Locations: New Jersey Expands Film Incentives
  • Thursday, Jun. 11, 2020
Executive producer Matt Corman (l) with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on the set of NBC's "The Enemy Within"

Governor Phil Murphy has signed into law Bill A5580, which expands New Jersey’s Film & Digital Media Tax Credit Program. The program has been extended for an additional five years, allowing incentives to remain in place until July 2028. Simultaneously, the annual cap has been raised to $100 million per year, with a roll forward provision for unused credits. These improvements make a strong incentive program even more robust, and will attract an increasing amount of film and TV production. Just as importantly, entrepreneurs will be further encouraged to locate permanent support facilities in the state, such as studios, equipment rental houses and post production facilities.

Since the program’s inception in July 2018, the state has attracted feature films such as Warner Bros.’ Joker, Netflix’s Army of the Dead and Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, as well as TV programs like NBC’s Lincoln Rhyme, ABC’s Emergence and HBO’s The Plot Against America. As a result, revenue from film and TV production has increased almost 500% in just two years, and over 12,000 jobs have been created.

New Timetable For Calif. Incentives Program 3.0
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the timetable for application and allocation periods relative to California’s next film and TV tax credit program (Program 3.0) has been delayed. Under normal circumstances, the California Film Commission would have held the initial allocation period in May, and then issue tax credit allocation letters on July 1.

However, now the application periods for recurring and relocating TV series has been pushed back to June 22-24, and to July 13-15 for feature/independent films. Credit allocation letter dates are now July 20 for recurring and relocating TV series, and August 17 for feature/indie films.

The application periods listed above are reduced to three days, and each will be followed by a five-day period during which all documentation must be submitted.  The California Film Commission will not accept any new television projects during the TV application period, as the recurring TV category is oversubscribed.  Recurring TV series will receive credit allocation letters upon submission of pick-up orders.  The above schedule is subject to additional change due to COVID-19 and approval of Program 3.0 regulations by the Office of Administrative Law.

New features of Program 3.0 include: additional tax credits for local hire labor; a pilot skills training program to train individuals for careers in the motion picture industry; new bonus point categories to help projects elevate their Jobs Ratio score; and revisions to expenditure classifications which affect wage vs non-wage tagging.

Finding Westworld In L.A., Singapore, Spain
Before the virus-prompted production shutdown, season three of Westworld (HBO) managed to get in its share of location lensing--in Los Angeles, Singapore and Spain. DP Paul Cameron, ASC shot the season’s first episode and then directed the fourth. Cameron used 35mm film for primary footage capture, and heightened the dramatic narrative with stunning locations: downtown L.A., City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, and Singapore’s National Gallery and famed Atlas Bar. Other challenging elements of the episodes included wide drone shots, fight sequences, vérité-street photography, and traditional heli-aerials.

For the episode he directed--“The Mother of Exiles”--Cameron collaborated with DP John Grillo, one of the primary Westworld lensers.

Cameron has a rich Westworld history. He shot the series pilot, titled “The Original,” for series creator/director/writer Jonathan Nolan. The “Original” earned Cameron his first Emmy nomination in 2017, as well as ASC Award and Camerimage Jury Award nods.

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