Monday, October 15, 2018

Hot Locations

  • Friday, Oct. 28, 2016
On-Location Lensing In L.A. Rises 3% In Q3
Paul Audley

On-location filming in Greater Los Angeles increased 3 percent last quarter to a record-setting 9,795 shoot days (SD), reported FilmL.A., a not-for profit organization that serves as the official film office of the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles and 20 other area jurisdictions.

From July through September, an increase in television production (up 2.7 percent to 4,423 SD) offset modest declines in on-location feature (down 5 percent to 1,089 SD) and commercials (down 2.6 percent to 1,245 SD) production.

Local on-location TV production continues to be energized up by the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program. Incentive-qualified TV projects filming in Los Angeles last quarter included American Horror Story, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I’m Dying Up Here, Pitch, Scream Queens, This is Us, and Westworld. Approximately one fourth of all local TV drama and TV comedy production is incentive-driven.

But it was TV reality and web-based TV that powered last quarter’s growth, with TV reality posting its first increase (up 6.6 percent to 1,342 SD) in six consecutive quarters, and short-form web-based TV reaching a new quarterly high (up 72.2 percent to 651 SD).

“California’s film incentive is now helping to sustain local TV production after seven straight quarters of growth,” noted Paul Audley, president of FilmL.A. “We knew we’d see a leveling off as the program reached full utilization. With the program doing all it can to support filming in California, our focus is on the neighborhoods where filming happens and on managing the activity taking place.”

Overall area feature film production declined (down 5 percent to 1,089 SD), after three straight quarters of growth. Along with other, non-incentivized feature projects, four films retained by the state incentive filmed in Greater Los Angeles last quarter: CHiPS (for pickup shots), Sandy Wexler, Suburbicon and The God Particle.

Commercial production levels slipped for the second straight quarter, dropping 2.6 percent (to 1,245 SD). Year-to-date, the category is still slightly ahead of where it was at this time in 2015.

Woman Walks Ahead In New Mexico
Nick Maniatis, director of the New Mexico Film Office, announced that the independent theatrical feature Woman Walks Ahead which was financed and produced by Black Bicycle Entertainment and Bedford Falls in association with Potboiler, has begun principal photography in Santa Fe, Pecos and Albuquerque, NM.

“We’re honored that the production team chose this area for their project, which carries particular cultural and historic significance,” said Santa Fe County manager Katherine Miller. “We’re especially excited that as we head into fall this maintains the momentum of a tremendous summer of production throughout the entire Santa Fe region and brings millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to the local economy.”

The production will employ approximately 150 New Mexico crew members, 15 New Mexico principal actors and 1,000 New Mexico background talent.

Michael Greyeyes (The New World), Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), Ciaran Hinds (Silence, Munich), Chaske Spencer (The Twilight Saga, Cinemax’s Banshee) and Bill Camp (The Night Of) have joined the cast of Susanna White’s (Our Kind of Traitor, Generation Kill) Woman Walks Ahead which stars Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain (The Martian, The Help). Woman Walks Ahead is the story of Catherine Weldon, a portrait painter from 1890’s Brooklyn, who travels to Dakota to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull, and becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples’ struggle over the rights to their land. The film is based on a script by Oscar nominee Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Locke).

  • Friday, Aug. 19, 2016
News From Film Indy, AFCI, "Bloodline" In Florida
Teresa Sabatine

In January 2016, Visit Indy, the Central Indiana Community Foundation, and the City of Indianapolis launched a new two-year marketing initiative called Film Indy.  Fast forward to today and they have hired the city’s first film commissioner.  The city’s Film Indy Advisory Board, made up of Central Indiana community leaders, has named Teresa Sabatine as the Film Indy commissioner.

Sabatine’s role will be to position Indianapolis as a production-friendly city for TV commercials, TV shows, corporate training videos, and movies--in support of driving additional tourism spending by visiting film crews, engaging local production companies, and generating marketing exposure for the city.

Sabatine leads Film Indy after a career in the marketing and film production industry, most recently serving as the director of business development for People for Urban Progress. Sabatine has also served as a page on the set of David Letterman; assisted producer Michael Bay with production for Transformers 4; worked with the City of Chicago and its Film Office; produced projects for Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, and 20th Century Fox in New York and Los Angeles; and worked in video production for Nike at its world headquarters.
Major corporations that have recently filmed TV commercials in Indianapolis include: Honda, Papa John’s, Apple, Visa, Reebok, TaylorMade, Delta Faucets, and Subaru. TV shows filmed here include: Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food and Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

The Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) announced Senator Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA), as the first confirmed speaker for its annual Cineposium conference scheduled for September 22-24 in Atlanta.  
Senator Dodd will provide remarks immediately following the opening welcome address at Cineposium on Friday, September 23.  

The MPAA is the voice and advocate of the motion picture industry in the U.S. and around the world. Its member companies regularly work with AFCI members before and during filming to find the right locations and navigate local laws, including film tax incentives, customs and other local procedures for on-location productions.

Building Your Business is the focus for this year’s Cineposium and will give attention to Infrastructure--How to Build It, Maintain It, and Manage Crew Development to Meet its Needs.

Bloodline, the hit Netflix  series based in the Florida Keys, will return to Florida for season 3 despite the lack of state financial incentives that were available for seasons 1 and 2. 
According to a recent market research study it was estimated that the season 1 of Bloodline was responsible for generating more than 39,000 incremental overnight household trips to the Florida Keys. The report also states, “as a result, incremental visits produced more than $65 million in travel spending over the seven months after season 1 launched that would not have otherwise occurred. Additionally, viewers of Bloodline are 20% more likely to positively promote the Florida Keys by word of mouth to their friends and family.”

  • Friday, May. 20, 2016
Hot Locations for May 2016
Bruce Hendricks

2,600+ Attend AFCI Locations & Global Finance Show
Last month’s Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) Locations & Global Finance Show (April 21-23) in Burbank, Calif., drew 2,608 visitors including executives from 20th Century Fox, A&E, ABC Studios, AFI, AMC, HBO, Leftfield Pictures, Lionsgate, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros., and Walt Disney. The opening address for the Global Finance Conference was delivered by Bruce Hendricks, co-founder and president of worldwide production for Dick Cook Studios. 

Hendricks earlier enjoyed a long tenure (1992-2011) as president of physical production at Walt Disney Studios where he supervised the making of more than 250 motion pictures and filmed in 30-plus countries. Among these films were The Sixth Sense, Armageddon, The Rock and Alice in Wonderland. His credits as executive producer are the Jerry Bruckheimer Productions’ Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, and the Michael Bay-directed Pearl Harbor. Hendricks’ directing credits include the record setting Hannah Montana 3D Concert film, The Jonas Brothers Concert Film, the IMAX film Ultimate X as well as music videos, television programs and commercials. As a director, Hendricks has been one of the early pioneers in live action digital 3D photography.

A self-described Texan learning the Mandarin language, Hendricks told the AFCI gathering that the theatrical box office business in China will soon be the world’s largest. He has made six trips to China in the last 12 months. And while reticent regarding details about Dick Cook Studios’ involvement in the Chinese market, Hendricks said in broad strokes that his company’s intent relative to China is simply “to make great movies.”
As for the business of deciding where to shoot--and for that matter whether a project will get off the ground--Hendricks said that in the indie filmmaking world tax credits/incentives can “mean the difference between a film being made or not made.”

Boding well for film commissioners, he added, is the proliferation of TV and online shows. Hendricks said that more than 400 original scripted shows were on TV last year as compared to less than 150 the year prior. There has never been more demand for content, he affirmed, citing beyond TV such platforms as Apple, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon.

The streaming online dynamic, though, takes some getting used to for Hendricks who noted that while he and his colleagues strive for optimum production values, his daughter watches movies on a 13-inch computer screen. 
Still, Hendricks insisted that the in-theater experience needs to be preserved, particularly in light of Sean Parker’s Screening Room venture which is looking to stream first-run movies for $50 each, thus undermining Hollywood’s long-standing business model of theatrical exclusivity. Relinquishing the shared communal audience experience that only a theater can bring would diminish the magic of the movies, he affirmed.

Quantico In A NY State Of Mind
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and ABC Studios (a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company) have announced that the hit ABC TV series Quantico will be leaving Montreal and moving to New York.

The upcoming season will include 22 one-hour episodes, creating hundreds of local jobs and generating an estimated $68 million in New York State spending. All aspects of production, including the writing team, will be based in New York. Filming is set to begin in July, which will create at least 300 full-time jobs in New York State, and postproduction will continue through May 2017. Postproduction for Quantico’s first season was done in New York, and added over $5 million to the local economy.

Many major film productions and television series have touted New York State’s Film Tax Credit Program as a major factor when choosing the Empire State as the location to film. Since 2004, 1,382 film and television projects have participated in the program and are estimated to have generated more than one million new hires and $20 billion in new spending in New York State. In 2015 alone, a record 203 film and television projects applied for the program, estimated to generate 187,764 new hires and $3.05 billion in new spending statewide. Since 2011, Disney has directly contributed an estimated $500 million to New York State’s economy through television and film production, along with an estimated 37,102 jobs for New Yorkers.

Lensing in New Mexico
Principal photography on season 3 of From Dusk Till Dawn began mid-March in New Mexico and will continue through the end of June. The production will employ approximately 250 New Mexico crew members and 75 New Mexico background talent per episode. Produced by Miramax in association with Rodriguez International Pictures, Factory Made Ventures and Sugarcane Entertainment, From Dusk Till Dawn runs on the El Rey Network.

Meanwhile NBC is developing the fantasy drama Midnight, Texas based on a three-book series by “True Blood” author Charlaine Harris. The adaptation is shepherded for Universal Television by NBC-based producer David Janollari and penned by Monica Owusu-Breen. Both are exec producing. Midnight, Texas revolves around a small town in the Lone Star State where the supernatural world collides with the real world in dangerous ways. The production shot from mid-March through the beginning of April and employed about 150 local crew members and 90 New Mexico background actors.

  • Friday, Apr. 1, 2016
Reed to keynote AFCI’s Global Finance Conference
Jason Reed

The Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) has set its keynote speaker and confirmed panelists for its first-ever Global Finance Conference taking place during its Locations & Global Finance Show, April 21 – 23, in Burbank, Calif. Jason Reed, executive producer of the ABC TV Network series Of Kings and Prophets, filmed in South Africa, will deliver the keynote address.

Reed is scheduled to speak on Friday, April 22 at 9:30 a.m. with a keynote address focusing on his international experience with co-production and utilizing incentives. Reed previously served as the general manager of Walt Disney Studios International Production, a division focused on producing in China, Russia, India and the Middle East.

International film finance leaders from China, Latin America and India will present, discuss co-production opportunities in their territories and present an array of multiple funding sources. Confirmed Global Finance panelists at the AFCI Locations & Global Finance Show include: Rick Ambros, partner at both Lightsource Asia Media Group and Benchmark Studios; Catherine Bates, head of incentives, New Zealand Film Commission; Robert Cain, partner, Lightsource Asia Media Group, and president of Pacific Bridge Pictures; Aoni Ma, COO, Film Finances Asia;  Raghav Mani, global media and entertainment knowledge leader, Ernst & Young; Arnold Peter, founding partner, Peter Law Group; and Steve Solot, president of the Latin American Training Center.

FLICS sets new leadership team
Film Liaisons In California Statewide (FLICS)—the coalition of 42 regional film offices working together to enhance California’s status as the film/TV production capital—has put its new leadership team in place for 2016. The new FLICS board includes: President—Cassandra Hesseltine (Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commissioner); VP—Geoff Alexander (Santa Barbara Film Commissioner); Secretary—Alicia Vennos (Mono Film Commissioner); Treasurer—Tasha Day (Long Beach Film Commissioner); and Immediate Past President—Janice Arrington (Orange County Film Commissioner)

After playing a key role advocating passage of California’s expanded film and TV tax credit program, FLICS and its 2016 leadership team are focused on finding new ways to ensure California retains and attracts production.

NY State Launches Film Good/Do Good Initiative
Empire State Development (ESD) and the New York State Commission on National and Community Service announced the launch of Film Good/Do Good, a first-of-its-kind partnership that will connect film and television productions with volunteer service opportunities throughout NY State. The program will encourage cast and crew members to volunteer at non-profit organizations that are fighting hunger, homelessness and other root causes of poverty in some of the state’s neediest neighborhoods.

“We attract film and television productions from around the world to shoot in New York State, and today we are launching a program to help them lift up the communities in which they film,” ESD president, CEO and commissioner Howard Zemsky said.

Hillarie Logan-Dechene, chair, New York State Commission on National and Community Service, said, “This program will bring volunteers with specific skills to communities where those skills are needed. Craft services workers can cook nutritious meals at a soup kitchen and teach the basics of cooking on a budget. Skilled carpenters can train and assist neighborhoods to build safe and inviting playgrounds for their children. Expert programmers can create modern online tools that will help nonprofits reach those needing assistance. The impact will be significant.”

The New York State Commission on National and Community Service will hire a consultant to help develop and coordinate the program. Film Good/Do Good will be part of the Commission’s Volunteer Generation program, which focuses on using volunteers to combat poverty. It is funded in part by a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington.

The Governor’s Office of Motion Picture & Television Development, a division of ESD, will partner with the Commission to shape Film Good/Do Good into a one-stop shop for productions interested in contributing to local communities above and beyond the economic impact of hiring local businesses and vendors, and employing background actors and crew members. Any film or television show shooting in New York State may participate in Film Good/Do Good.

  • Friday, Feb. 5, 2016
L.A. On-Location Lensing Rises Slightly In 2015
Paul Audley

On-location filming in Greater Los Angeles increased 1.3 percent in 2015 to 37,289 Shoot Days (SD), thanks to a rise in scripted television production and the aid of the California Film & Television Tax Credit 2.0.  That was the key takeaway from FilmL.A.’s latest report, “2015 Production Retrospective.”  The not-for-profit FilmL.A. organization serves as the official film office of the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles and 20 other area jurisdictions. 

Scripted television production is again a growth industry in Los Angeles. In a year where TV reality production fell 8.0 percent (to 5,088 SD), the overall Television category posted a 9.5 percent gain in 2015 over the previous year (to 15,706 SD) and an impressive 19.4 percent increase over the category’s 5-year rolling average. 

Among scripted television categories, TV dramas and TV sitcoms led in overall production growth last year. TV dramas increased 19.3 percent (to 4,374 SD) in 2015 compared to 2014.  The smaller TV sitcom category increased 100.5 percent (to 2,268 SD) over the same period.  Meanwhile, Web-based TV production increased 28.3 percent (to 1,449 SD) and TV pilot production decreased 13.9 percent (to 638 SD). 

“Television’s importance to Greater Los Angeles can’t be overstated,” noted Paul Audley, president of FilmL.A.  “Scripted television provides long-term job opportunities and high economic value, so these increases should be celebrated.”   Once again, the impact of the California Film & Television Tax Credit was evident in the numbers reported by FilmL.A.  Incentive-qualified television projects generated 7.2 percent (1,130 SD) of local on-location TV production in 2015. Within select TV subcategories the incentive’s effect was more pronounced. Incentivized production made up 20.3 percent (887 SD) of the TV drama category, 8.4 percent (190 SD) of the TV sitcom category, and 8.3 percent (53 SD) of the TV pilots category.

Local on-location feature production decreased 4.2 percent (to 4,344 SD) in 2015, though the category began to perk up in the fourth quarter thanks to state-incentivized projects.  Between October and December, 2015, five state-incentivized feature projects got underway in Los Angeles (CHiPs, The Conjuring 2, Rebirth, The Sentence and The Disaster Artist), registering 101 SD, and accounting for 9.4 percent of total feature production for the quarter. 

Commercial production stayed flat in Los Angeles last year, with the category posting a negligible 0.2 percent growth (to 5,201 SD).  Nonetheless, the spotmaking industry remains a major production driver in the Greater L.A. Region.  For four straight years, commercials have produced more on-location shoot Days per year than feature films.

A Bid To Bring Back Incentives In Indiana
Senate Bill 125 proposes to reinstate the film production incentive program in Indiana. Highlights of the program include (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC):

For productions with qualified spend of less than $6 million, the program provides a refundable tax credit equal to: 40% of qualified production expenditures paid to an individual or entity located in a municipality or county in which either 25% of the households are below the poverty level as established by the most recent United States decennial census, or there’s an unemployment rate which is 1.5 times greater than the statewide average over the most recent 18 month period for which data is available. In other areas of the state, the tax credit is equal to 35% of qualified production expenditures.

For productions with qualified spend of $6 million or more, the program provides for a refundable tax credit of not more than 15% on qualified expenditures.

The incentives program, if passed, would take effect on January 1, 2017, with a sunset date of December 31, 2019.

New Jersey Incentives Bill Vetoed
Senate Bill 779, which proposed to re-establish the film production tax credit program, was vetoed last month by Governor Chris Christie (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC).

Amendment Proposed For Kentucky Film Program
Bill Request 436 proposes to amend Kentucky’s film production program by including all counties in the Appalachian region in the definition of an enhanced incentive county (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC).

Productions filming entirely within an enhanced incentive county are eligible to earn 35% on qualified expenditures.

  • Friday, Oct. 23, 2015
Hot Locations: AFCI Sets Board Of Directors
Jeanne Corcoran of the Sarasota Film and Entertainment Office

The Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) unveiled its board of directors for 2016 at last month’s 39th Cineposium film summit in Barcelona, Spain.

AFCI chairman George David of the Royal Film Commission of Jordan made the announcement during the closing remarks of Cineposium at the Disseny Hub Barcelona. Elected to two-year terms were: Kevin Jennings, Film Otago Southland (New Zealand); Jeanne Corcoran, Sarasota Film and Entertainment Office; Pamela Haynes, West Virginia Film Office; and Karen Carberry Warhola, Maine Film Office.

These newly elected board members join AFCI’s board of directors currently continuing their terms: Chairman David; Walea Contantinau, Honolulu Film Office; Nick Maniatis, New Mexico Film Office; Silvia Echeverri, Colombian Film Commission; Deny Staggs, Montana Film Office; Sigmund Elias Holm, Western Norway Film Commission; and Marijana Stoisits, Vienna Film Commission.

“The AFCI’s continual success hinges on the dedicated participation of our members to set the trajectory of our organization and embody excellence in service that is synonymous to the AFCI brand,” said David. “Diversity and inclusion are paramount and reflected in our board which is comprised of members from Austria, Colombia, Jordan, New Zealand, Norway and the United States.”

Chairman David looks forward to the AFCI board continuing its work of providing unique and insightful education, events and services to its over 300 members who assist film, TV and video production across the globe in their respective governmental jurisdictions.

Also during the closing of the Cineposium Film Summit, AFCI Chairman, David presented the organization’s Certified Film Commissioner designations to Craig A. Woods, Bahamas Film Commission; Angelika Pagitz, Cine Tirol Austria Film Commission; and Rodrigo Ardiles, Film Commission Association of Chile.

Made In NY Entrepreneur Grants Program Launched
At press time, the industry was awaiting an announcement identifying the recipients of the first Made In NY Entrepreneur Innovation Grants, which were created for New York City-based projects. The recently launched program will award several grants ranging from $5,000-$10,000 each to projects in early development focused on innovative approaches to content and delivery. The grants are open to projects and companies within Media/Technology, including virtual reality, gaming, filmmaking, animation, and postproduction.

“Funding is an important and necessary stage in the creative process,” said film commissioner Cynthia López, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. “With the Made in NY Entrepreneur Innovation Grants, New Yorkers will have the access and opportunity they need to better focus on the work at hand and bring their unique vision to life.”

“The Made in NY Entrepreneur Innovation Grants are a rare opportunity for a small business or early stage project to receive equity- free funding,” said Joana Vicente, executive director of IFP and the Made in NY Media Center by IFP. “This cash injection will allow entrepreneurs and innovators to kick start the progress of their businesses in their nascent stages. In a climate where investment and funding within the Media/Technology sectors are increasingly scarce and expensive, the Grants provide equity and stake-free support to those pushing the boundaries of creative innovation.”

The Made in NY Entrepreneur Innovation Grants are open to individual content creators and/or businesses residing in or operating primarily in New York City. Media and technology companies must be in the beginning funding stages at the time of their application. A wide range of projects is considered. The grants look to support those who are engaging new technologies that create and disseminate media. Grant awardees will become members of the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, a DUMBO, Brooklyn-based incubator developed through a partnership formed among Independent Filmmaker Project, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

  • Friday, Aug. 14, 2015
Incentives Lure American Horror Story, Veep To Calif.
Moyra Lock

California lawmakers’ decision last year to expand the state’s film and TV tax credit program is paying dividends. Just a couple of months ago, the initiative has attracted four shows from other states: FX Networks’ American Horror Story is moving from Louisiana to California; HBO’s Veep is coming over from Maryland; VH1’s Hindsight is changing venues from Atlanta; and ABC’s Secrets and Lies is relocating from North Carolina.

American Horror Story is reportedly tapping into an estimated $9 million tax credit for moving to California. Veep comes in at some $6.5 million. Secrets and Lies is realizing some $5.7 million. And Hindsight will receive a tax credit amounting to some $3.9 million.

Six new TV series are receiving credits: HBO’s Utopia with $19.6 million, and Westwood at $12 million; CBS’ Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, ABC’s Code Black and Fox medical drama Rosewood. The latter three shows are benefiting from tax credits each in the $5 million to $6.4 million range.

Tourism Theme At Cineposium
Film tourism will be the theme for the Association of Film Commissioners International’s (AFCI) 2015 Cineposium slated for September 24-26 in Barcelona, Spain.

Cineposium attendees will gain insights into the economic added value that on-location filming brings to regions and communities. For example, New Zealand saw tourism soar to over $3 billion in 2014, up $7 million from the previous year due to the popularity of the Hobbit franchise. And after the 2011 release of Dolphin Tale, the St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida area reported a 72 percent increase in tourism to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium as a result of the film.

At Cineposium in September, Moyra Locke, head of marketing, communications and audiences for North Ireland Screen, the government-backed lead agency in Northern Ireland for the film, television and digital content industry, will discuss how her country is increasing tourism thanks to Game of Thrones and what her office is doing in partnership with tourism bureau Visit Ireland and HBO to promote and manage access to major locales.

Brazilian Film Commission Network Connects With AFCI
Kevin Clark, AFCI executive director, and Steve Solot, exec director of the recently created Brazilian Film Commission Network REBRAFIC (Rede Brasileira de Film Commissions), announced a new basic framework agreement for the mutual exchange of resources and benefits between their organizations.

According to the new Agreement, the AFCI will place the REBRAFIC logo and contact information on its website, so that producers will have access to all REBRAFIC member film commissions. In addition, the members of REBRAFIC shall have access to AFCI University Courses.

The Brazilian Film Commission Network will join the AFCI worldwide network of more than 300 film commissions representing six continents, devoted to serving the motion picture, television, commercial, digital and interactive media industry by supplying essential goods and services for the business of facilitating film and television production activity, which generates billions of dollars annually.

Swiss Army Man Wraps 2-Week Shoot in San Mateo
Swiss Army Man, written and directed by Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), wrapped a two-week film shoot on the San Mateo County, Calif. coast.  Starring Daniel Radcliffe from the Harry Potter series, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and Paul Dano (from There Will Be Blood) Swiss Army Man was another feature film project to film extensively in the area due to the California Film Incentive Program designed to “keep film jobs in California”.

The Swiss Army Man production, alone, booked over 800 hotel rooms in San Mateo County/Silicon Valley. They also hired local caterers and film industry professionals, and the production crew ate in local restaurants, hired local cars, used our local services and paid land owners filming location fees to film on their properties.

This is just one of many feature films that have shot in our region.  Most recently, Redwood Shores saw filming from Terminator Genisys, the fifth in the Terminator series, and The Boat Builder filmed in Pacifica.  Other recent major feature film productions that have had portions shot in San Mateo County and Palo Alto include Chasing Mavericks, The Master, The Internship, and JOBS.  Numerous independent films, commercials, documentaries, TV shows and still shoots have been shot in the area as well.

These film projects have generated millions of dollars over the years for the area and were coordinated through the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau & Film Commission.

  • Thursday, May. 14, 2015
Hot Locations: Film Incentive Program Created For U.S. Virgin Islands
"The Green Room," lensed in Oregon.

Governor Kenneth Mapp has signed Bill #31-0009 creating a film production program in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Highlights of the program are as follows (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC):

Establishes a transferable tax credit equal to 10%-17%  of the first $500,000 of each resident’s  compensation (rate is dependent on the percentage of the workforce made up of Virgin Island residents);
Establishes a rebate of up to 9% of qualified production expenditures;
Allows an additional rebate equal to 10% of qualified production expenditures if the production includes a qualified Virgin Islands promotion;
Allows an additional rebate equal to 10% of qualified production expenditures if qualified production activities take place on the island of St. Croix;
Provides for an annual cap for the program of at least $2.5 million;
Requires a minimum of 20% of the workforce (including extras and day players) to be made up of Virgin Island residents; and,
Requires a minimum spend of $250,000. 

Oregon Lensing
The second quarter of 2015 has seen assorted commercial shoots in Oregon, according to Tim Williams, executive director of the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film and Television, aka Oregon Film.
On the TV front, Oregon is welcoming back IFC’s Portlandia for season six, and the second season of TNT’s The Librarians.

As for features, the Oregon-lensed The Green Room has been chosen for Cannes’ Directors Fortnight which began May 14 and runs through May 24. Directed by Jeremy Saulnier, the film centers on a band of punk rockers who find themselves trapped in a secluded venue, fighting for their lives against a gang of neo-Nazis. The Green Room’s cast includes Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner and Joe Cole. The film marks a return engagement for Saulnier at Cannes. His Blue Ruin made the final cut for the 2013 Directors’ Fortnight.

Louisiana Proposals
Several bills are in the legislature relative to Louisiana’s film production incentive program. Here are two of the bills and their featured provisions (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC):

House Bill 704 would amend the program as follows:
Beginning January 1, 2016, provides for a funding cap in the amount of $150 million per calendar year:
Credits will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis;
If the total credits applied for in any particular year exceed the aggregate amount of credits allowed for that year, the excess will be treated as having been applied for on the first day of the subsequent year.

Meanwhile House Bill 213 proposes the following changes:

Effective January 1, 2016, creates a program funding cap of $50 million per year:
If the total amount of the tax credits is exceeded, the excess shall not be rolled over into the subsequent year;
Replaces the first-come, first-served aspect of the existing program with preference given to productions that provide the greatest economic return to the state based on the following factors:
The percentage of payroll spent on the employment of Louisiana residents;
The impact of the production on the overall economy of the state, including the percentage of production expenditures expended in the state;
Whether the production company has paid Louisiana corporate franchise taxes or whether the production company has deducted and withheld Louisiana income tax on wages earned by employees of the production company in the state of Louisiana;
Whether the production company has used an animated state brand or logo, or both. 

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
One governor signed, another vetoed legislation relative to incentive programs in Colorado and Utah, respectively (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC).

On April 24, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 234, which appropriates $3 million to the film rebate program for the 2016 fiscal year (July 1-June 30).

Also last month, Senate Bill 278 was vetoed by Utah Governor Gary Herbert. It proposed to amend the Motion Picture Incentive Fund rebate program by increasing the per project cap from $500,000 to $2.5 million.

Maryland Bill Pending
Senate Bill 905 proposes to amend Maryland’s existing film incentives program as follows (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC):

Creates a reserve fund which is a special continuing non-lapsing fund for film incentives;
Beginning with the 2017 fiscal year and each fiscal year thereafter, it is the intent of the General Assembly for the Governor to include in the budget an appropriation to the reserve fund in an amount equal to the amount to:
Maintain the current level of film production in the state: and, 
Attract new film production activity in the state.
Requires a five second long static or animated logo in the end credits before the below-the-line crew crawl, for feature films;
Requires an embedded five second long static or animated logo for a television series;
Provides for alternative marketing opportunities in lieu of the logo requirements; and,
Eliminates the sunset date of the program.

  • Thursday, Mar. 26, 2015
AFCI Locations: Incentives Update in California, Nevada, Missouri
Eric Preiss, director of the Nevada Film Office

A session introducing California’s newly expanded and extended filming incentive program drew a capacity turnout earlier this month at the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) Locations Show 2015 in Los Angeles. Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission (CFC), which administers the incentives tax credit initiative, and program director Amy Stone, also of the CFC, made the presentation.

Among the highlights of what is now known as California’s Film & TV Tax Credit 2.0 are: Program funding has been increased from $100 million to $300 million annually; eligibility has been expanded to include big budget features, one-hour TV series (for any distribution outlet) and TV pilots; budget caps have been eliminated for studio and independent films yet while there are no caps, the tax credit program will apply only to each project’s first $100 million in qualified spending (for studio films) or the first $10 million (for indie films); the existing tax credit lottery is being eliminated as projects will instead by selected based on a “jobs ratio” formula and other ranking criteria; penalty provisions have been set for projects that overstate job creation; the single allocation period annually will be replaced by multiple allocation periods throughout the year (application period schedules and instructions are being developed); and a 5 percent “uplift” has been established for productions shot outside Greater L.A.’s 30-Mile Zone, as well as for visual effects and music scoring/recording performed in-state.

A 20 percent tax credit is in place for qualifying in-state spending on non-independent productions, including features, movies of the week and miniseries, new TV series and TV pilots, with 25 percent allotted for indie projects and relocating TV series (for their first year filming in California). To be eligible, 75 percent of a project’s principal photography days or total budget must take place or be spent in California.

Producers tapping into the tax credits must also engage in educational/training opportunities for high school and community college students. This can take the form of providing paid or unpaid internships or apprenticeships; conducting workshops, lectures or demos; making financial or equipment contributions to a school or program; and producing extracurricular resources such as how-to videos.

A restoration of funding in Nevada?
Last year a major Nevada filming incentives program had its funding cut dramatically--from $80 million to $10 million covering a four-year period which began in January 2014. Catalyst for the cutback was legislation which provided Tesla Motors with more than $1 billion worth of financial incentives in exchange for the company bringing its battery factory to Nevada. To help offset the cost of the Tesla package, state legislators made other cuts, including $70 million in film subsidies.

However, a bill has been introduced in Nevada’s legislature which would restore the original filming incentives program funding. The measure is currently under consideration, according to a production incentives update presented by Joe Bessacini, Cast & Crew’s VP of film and TV production incentives, during an AFCI Locations panel discussion. Later, on the AFCI Locations exhibit floor, SHOOT received confirmation of the state bill from Eric Preiss, director of the Nevada Film Office.

Preiss noted that the current session of the Nevada legislature, which began in February, runs through May. The Nevada Film Office is waiting to find out the outcome of the bill which, if passed, would restore the original level of funding for the state filming incentives program. Once the decision on that bill is made--one way or the other--Preiss said that the Nevada Film Office would formulate and implement its big picture plan accordingly, doing the best it can to attract, retain and serve producers filming in the state.

Under the incentives program, companies that spend a minimum of $500,000 and shoot at least 60 percent of their project in Nevada are eligible for a transferable tax credit of 15 to 19 percent of qualified production expenditures.  The film incentives package applies to projects ranging from theatrical features to TV, commercials, digital content and branded entertainment. The minimum threshold of $500,000 can be reached cumulatively, meaning that multiple commercials or pieces of branded content, for example, shot in Nevada during the course of the year can collectively qualify for the tax credit.

Show-Me State
A Missouri Senate Bill proposes to create a new film incentive program, which allows for a transferable tax credit equal to 20 percent of qualified expenses.

Other provisions of the proposed program include: an additional 5 percent may be earned on all qualifying expenses if at least 50 percent of the project is shot in Missouri; an annual funding cap of $4.5 million; a new sunset date of November 28, 2021; an exclusion of all compensation and wages paid to an individual earning more than $250,000; and the required inclusion of a statement or a logo about Missouri in the screen credits.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014
Animated Series “Dora And Friends” Generates Millions of Dollars For NY State
"Dora and Friends: Into The City"

Empire State Development (ESD), New York's chief economic development agency,  highlighted the fiscal benefits resulting from the postproduction animation of “Dora and Friends: Into the City” in New York State. The new children’s television series spent approximately $1 million in the State on post production costs, hired 80 New Yorkers, and generated over $5 million in non-post production spending for local New York vendors. The series is the Empire State’s first fully-animated television show since Governor Andrew M. Cuomo extended and enhanced the film and television tax credit in 2013 to facilitate postproduction work for animation.

The first season of the show, which begins broadcasting this week on Nickelodeon, will include 20 half-hour episodes and is a spinoff series from “Dora the Explorer,” which, according to Nickelodeon, is the most watched pre-school age show of all time. The new series follows Dora and her friends’ adventures in the fictional city of Playa Verde.

“The new post production incentive for animation was a key factor in our decision to keep postproduction in New York,” said Teri Weiss, executive VP of original programming, Nickelodeon Preschool Television.

In 2012, Governor Cuomo championed and signed into law legislation that was designed to help New York State compete for postproduction business and jobs, a fast-growing segment of the motion picture and television industry. The law boosted the available postproduction tax credit from 10 percent to 30 percent (for post-production work in the New York metropolitan commuter region), and from 10 percent to 35 percent (for postproduction work done Upstate.) Last year, when the film and TV tax credit program was enhanced and extended, programmatic changes included lowering the postproduction threshold for visual effects and animation on qualified New York expenses from 75 percent to 20 percent or $3 million of the total animation budget (whichever is lower).

These enhancements have helped to significantly grow postproduction in New York, particularly by attracting work from films shot outside the state and to have the postproduction work done by New York companies.  Since taking effect, 140 productions have applied for postproduction work in New York--more than eight times the number of applications received during a two-year period under the previous tax credit--which will generate more than $130 million in direct spending. Furthermore, 13 post companies have established new operations, including three Upstate.

Yana Collins Lehman, co-chair of Post New York Alliance, said, “VFX and animation companies in New York have never been busier. Governor Cuomo recognized early on that getting aggressive with the film and TV incentive was the surest way to attract to New York the kinds of projects that have, for years, been leaving the country. And it’s working! Companies are expanding within, and relocating to New York. And great jobs in VFX and animation are coming here, almost faster than we can fill them.”

Postproduction includes all of the editing after filming is complete and includes visual effects, color correction, sound editing and mixing. The industry also includes thousands of other jobs, from engineers and messengers to creative and support staff. The strengthened law was designed to expand state support by specifically focusing on attracting postproduction work to communities in all corners of the state. At a time when other states are experiencing production flight, New York’s strengthened credit supports a robust industry cluster which has become a major source of direct and indirect employment and economic opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people.

Since the film tax credit program was established in 2004, it has leveraged an estimated $14 billion worth of direct spending and has been a huge job generator for New York. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the industry has experienced explosive growth since 2011, with record breaking years for productions and post production in 2013, bringing billions of dollars in new spending and thousands of jobs into New York State. The stability provided by multiyear funding has particularly encouraged the development of television series production work, as well as long term investments in infrastructure, all of which creates thousands of jobs directly and indirectly related to the actual productions themselves.

During calendar year 2013, applications for 181 film productions were submitted and included 124 films, 31 television programs, and 25 pilots and 1 relocated television show. The impact of these projects includes: Generating a direct spend of $2.09 billion in NY State; collecting a projected $466 million in credits; and hiring an estimated 126,301 actors and crew for the 181 projects submitted.

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