Expanded Incentive Program Prompts 2 More Series To Relocate To California
Colleen Bell, executive director of the California Film Commission
"Promised Land" comes over from Georgia; "Mysterious Benedict Society" departs Vancouver, B.C. for The Golden State 
  • HOLLYWOOD, Calif.
  • --

Recent legislation to expand California’s Film & TV Tax Credit Program is delivering quickly on one of its core goals by incentivizing more TV series to relocate production here from other states and nations. 

The California Film Commission announced that ABC’s “Promised Land” and the Disney+ series “Mysterious Benedict Society” will relocate to the Golden State with tax credits provided by the passage of Senate Bill 144. 

Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on July 21, SB 144 has several key provisions including an additional $15 million per year (for two years) increase in tax credits reserved specifically for relocating TV series, bringing total annual funding for relocating series to $71.1 million (up from $56.1 million). In addition, the criteria to qualify as a relocating TV series has been relaxed to include series that filmed their pilot episode out-of-state (the tax credit program previously required relocating series to film an entire season out-of-state). 

“The new expansion of our tax credit program is working to bring more jobs, spending and opportunity to California,” said Colleen Bell, executive director of the California Film Commission. “Production here in California continues to rebound from the pandemic, and the decisive action from our policymakers in Sacramento is helping to fuel that success.” 

“Promised Land” is relocating from Georgia while “Mysterious Benedict Society” is relocating from Vancouver, B.C.--locales that have hosted other TV series that relocated to California via the tax credit program. In recent years, one prior series (“Good Girls”) relocated from Georgia, while five series (“Chad,” “Legion,” “Lucifer,” “Mistresses,” and “Timeless”) relocated from Vancouver. With the two series announced today, California’s tax credit program has welcomed a total of 25 relocating TV series since 2015.
“The producers of ‘Promised Land’ are thrilled to be bringing our show home to California,” said executive producer/showrunner Matt Lopez. “For over a hundred years, the Golden State has been the ‘promised land’ for content creators in the film and television industries. It is an honor and a privilege to tell this quintessentially American story right here in California, home to the most diverse and talented crews in the world.” 

For their first season in California, “Promised Land” and “Mysterious Benedict Society” are on track to generate a combined $82.5 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 will be significantly greater with the inclusion of above-the-line wages and other expenditures that do not qualify for incentives under California’s uniquely targeted tax credit program.

Based on information provided with each project’s tax credit application, the two relocating series will employ a combined 411 crew, 480 cast, and 3,856 background actors/stand-ins (the latter measured in “man-days”) over 157 filming days in California, (including 26 shoot days planned outside the Los Angeles 30-Mile Studio Zone). They will also generate postproduction jobs and revenue for VFX artists, sound editors, sound mixers, musicians and other workers/vendors. Based on their qualified spending and available funding for the tax credit program, the two projects combined qualify for the full $15 million in reserved tax credit for the current allocation period under SB 144. 

Other changes under SB 144
In addition to boosting tax credits for relocating TV series, SB 144 also allocates an additional $75 million per year (for two years) to recurring TV series, which are defined as series that were accepted previously into the tax credit program and receive a “pick-up order” for a subsequent season of production. Total annual funding for recurring TV projects is part of a broader category that also includes new TV series, pilots and mini-series, so it varies each year depending on which series receive pick-up orders. 

The third and final element of SB 144 creates a new and separate $150 million tax credit program targeted specifically at new soundstage development and workforce diversity. Regulations to administer this new program are currently being developed by the California Film Commission. 

SB 144 was authored by state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support in the state Assembly and Senate. 

The latest application period for TV projects was held September 20-27. Due to the tax credit program’s success with ongoing TV projects, the allocation round was open only to new relocating series and recurring series accepted during previous rounds. In addition to the two relocating series announced today, the tax credit program currently has 22 recurring (legacy) series in various stages of production. The current list of projects eligible for tax credits is subject to change, as projects may withdraw from the program. To date, a total of 158 television projects--including new TV series, relocating TV series, pilots, MOWs and miniseries--have been selected for tax credits since 2015.
The next tax credit application period for TV projects will be March 7-14, 2022. The next application period for feature films will be January 24-31, 2022. 


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