Calif. Tax Credits Granted To 12 Features Projected To Generate Nearly $225M In Qualified Spending
Colleen Bell, executive director of the California Film Commission
  • HOLLYWOOD, Calif.
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A dozen feature films have been selected for the final round of tax credits allocated under California’s Film & TV Tax Credit Program 2.0, which was launched in 2015 and will be followed by the next-generation Program

The 12 projects (four independent, eight non-independent) are on track to generate nearly $225 million in qualified spending, which is defined as below-the-line wages to California workers and payments to in-state vendors. Overall in-state spending by the projects will be significantly greater with the inclusion of above-the-line payments and other expenditures that do not qualify for tax credits under California’s incentive program.

While most of the production activity will occur within the Los Angeles 30-Mile Studio Zone, four of the 12 projects (“Dead Dads Club,” “Dog,” “Little America” and “Pursuit”) plan a significant amount of production (65 filming days) in Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. California will double for a range of far-off locales including Iran (for “The Test”), Hong Kong (for “Little America”) and Florida (for “Lady of the House”). In addition, a project that was set originally in the Pacific Northwest (“The Black Hole”) was rewritten to take place in Los Angeles.

Extending production activity beyond the 30-Mile Zone has been a key objective for the expanded tax credit program. With the projects announced today, Program 2.0 has helped bring more than 50 out-of-zone film and television projects to regions across California, with an estimated total of $145 million in qualified out-of-zone spending.

“Program 2.0 has accomplished precisely what it was designed to do, from creating high-wage jobs to encouraging more out-of-zone production,” said California Film Commission executive director Colleen Bell. “As the industry begins to rebound from COVID-19, the launch of Program 3.0 will help continue to ensure that California provides an unparalleled value.”

Bell noted that over its five-year duration, the expanded Program 2.0 has incentivized a total of 243 film and TV projects that have generated an estimated $11 billion in overall spending across California, including $4 billion in qualified wages to below-the-line workers and $3.7 billion in payments to in-state vendors.

Based on data provided with each tax credit application, the 12 latest film projects will employ an estimated 1,745 crew, 543 cast and 14,668 background actors/stand-ins (the latter measured in “man days”) over a combined 444 filming days in California. They will also generate significant postproduction jobs and revenue for California VFX artists, sound editors, sound mixers, musicians and other workers/vendors. The projects represent a wide range of cast, crew and storylines.

“As a project with many trans and other gender non-confirming creative team members, cast and crew, it was essential for ‘Moonshadow’ production to be based in a progressive state,” said executive producer Jude Harris. “California’s tax credit program is making it possible for us to generate jobs and production spending here at home while working in a supportive environment.”

A total of 54 film projects applied for tax credits during the March 9–13 application period. The California Film Commission has reserved $40.2 million in tax credit allocation for the 12 film projects selected. The allocation was originally set to be announced in April, but approvals were delayed due to COVID-19 and the resulting suspension in production activity.

The 12 conditionally approved projects consist of eight non-indie and four indie films. The non-indie lineup is comprised of “Ashes to Oceans” (eOne Features LLC, slated to receive $2,774,0000 in estimated tax credits), “Half Baked 2” (1440 Productions LLC, NBC Universal, with $814,000 in estimated tax credits), “Lady of the House” (TCS US Productions 2, Inc./Fox, with $3,390,000 in estimated tax credits), “Live Feed” (Universal City Studios LLC, NBC Universal, with $10,024,000 in estimated tax credits), “Moonshadow” (NoFilmter Filmco, LLC, with $832,000 in estimated tax credits), “Pursuit” (eOne Features LLC, with $6,603,000 in estimated tax credits), “The Test” (E One Features, LLC, with $2,169,000 in estimated tax credits), and an untitled Lucy and Desi Project from Aaron Sorkin and starring Cate Blanchett (Amazon Studios, with $3,657,000 in estimated tax credits). The four indie projects are “The Black Hole” (New Regency Productions, Inc., with $2.5 million in estimated tax credits), “Dog” (Collar & Leash, Ltd., with $2.5 million in estimated tax credits), “Dead Dads Club” (NTCP USA, LLC, with $2.5 million in estimated tax credits) and the Michael Bay/Sylvester Stallone thriller “Little America” (Little America Financing & Distribution LLC, with $2.5 million in estimated tax credits). The list is subject to change, as applicants may withdraw from the program and their reservation of tax credits is reassigned to one or more projects currently on the waiting list.

California’s next-generation Film & TV Tax Credit Program 3.0 launches on July 1 with several new provisions, including a pilot skills training program to help individuals from underserved communities gain access to career opportunities. There are also provisions requiring projects to have a written policy for addressing unlawful harassment, and enhanced reporting of above and below-the-line cast and crew employment diversity data.

The application period for the first round of Program 3.0 TV projects was held June 22–24, with approved projects scheduled to be announced on July 20. The next application period for feature film tax credits will be held July 13–15, with approved projects scheduled to be announced on August 17.


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