State Film Commissions Guide: California
What are some of the greatest financial perks of filming in your state? In addition to our tax credit program, we offer 315 days of sunshine, the most diverse locations, the most skilled crews, the best and largest selection of local on-screen talent, access to the finest equipment and the world’s best production infrastructure. Shooting in California affords any production the resources and tools needed to save both time and money.
What tax credits are available for productions in your state? California’s Film & TV Tax Credit Program provides $100 million in tax credits annually. A minimum of $10 million of the annual funding is available for independent films. The following is a brief description of the program parameters.
Qualified taxpayers are allowed a credit against income and/or sales and use taxes, based on qualified expenditures. Credits applied to income tax liability are not refundable. Only tax credits issued to an “independent film” may be transferred or sold to an unrelated party. Other qualified taxpayers may carryover tax credits for 5 years and transfer tax credits to an affiliate.
To apply for the California Film and Television Incentive Program, a “qualified motion picture” must be one of the following:
Eligible for a 20% Tax Credit:
– Feature Films ($1 million minimum – $75 million maximum production budget)
– Movies-of-the-Week or Miniseries ($500,000 minimum production budget)
– New television series licensed for original distribution on basic cable ($1 million minimum budget; one-half hour shows and other exclusions apply)
Eligible for 25% Tax Credit:
– A television series, without regard to episode length, that filmed all of its prior seasons outside of California.
– An “independent film” ($1 million total production budget – $10 million qualified expenditure budget that is produced by a company that is not publicly traded and that publicly traded companies do not own more than 25% of the producing company.)
A “qualified motion picture” must also meet the following conditions:
– 75% test (production days or total production budget) in California
– Application must be submitted at least 30 days prior to commencement of principal photography
– Once an application is approved, principal photography must begin within 180 days
In addition, San Francisco offers qualified productions a refund of all payroll tax and city fees up to $600,000 per production. And the San Francisco Vendor Discount Program provides an opportunity for production companies and their crew members to receive discounts while shopping locally at participating businesses. Santa Clarita offers refunds of basic film permit fees and portions of hotel occupancy taxes to qualifying productions (subsidies capped at $50,000 per fiscal year). They also provide savings to productions assigned LA County Sheriff Deputies for traffic control and safety during filming within City limits.
What are some of the locations in your state that filmmakers should know about? California offers the world in one place: 800 miles of dramatic coastline, the Golden Gate Bridge, urban city centers, farmland, mountains, deserts, redwood forests, rolling hills, waterfalls, ski resorts, vineyards, Victorian villages, gold mines and historic downtown centers. Our locations have doubled for the Himalayas, Iraqi villages, quaint Pennsylvania towns, New York City and the terrain of other planets.
Are there studios and soundstages that the state hosts that filmmakers should know about? California offers over 500 stage facilities throughout the state. A list can be found here. Abundant stage facilities can be found in Los Angeles, Santa Clarita, Orange County, the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego.
What can you tell us about talented labor in your state? Do you have robust union representation? California is home to the most talented cast and crew base in the world, both union and non-union. And our crew base is 100 deep.
Are there deals that you have with equipment, craft service or other suppliers to make these services more affordable? Having so many vendors to choose from, productions can negotiate great deals for everything they need.
What are some of the recent productions that produced films in your state? “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Argo,” “The Bling Ring,” “After Earth,” “The Artist,” “Horrible Bosses,” “Savages,” “Behind The Candelabra,” “NCIS” and “NCIS Los Angeles,” “Dexter,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Castle,” “Justified,” “Rizzoli and Isles,” and many more.
What cities have their own film commissions in your state? Access to California’s statewide network of more than 60 Regional Film Offices can be found here.
How many productions shot in your state last year? California hosts nearly 200 feature films each year and countless TV series, commercials and documentaries.
What should filmmakers do if they’re interested in shooting a film in your state? Who should they contact if they have more questions? Go to: www.film.ca.gov for information on filming in California.
Interested in the incentives offered by other state film commissions? Check out Indiewire’s full guide to state film commissions HERE.
Can the VFX industry force Hollywood studios to give up foreign tax subsidies?
That’s the question posed by VFX Soldier, an anonymous blogger and VFX pro who commissioned a Washington, D.C., law firm to investigate the issue using crowdsourced funds. The resulting feasability study is available online as a Google doc.
VFX Soldier has long maintained that tax subsidies promote a “race to the bottom” in the industry. As tax incentives pop up in different regions around the world, studios move production and post to leverage the most attractive financial advantages on offer, which reduces stability and job security for VFX professionals. VFX Soldier has also argued that tax subsidies violate international trade agreements through the WTO and NAFTA, and four lawyers at Picard Kentz & Rowe (PK&R) determined that the best way forward for VFX workers would be invoking so-called countervailing duty laws in the U.S. that are meant to balance the effects of subsidies abroad.
What are countervailing duties, or CVDs? If the U.S. Department of Commerce determines that imported goods are being subsidized in their country of origin, causing injury to a competing industry in the U.S., U.S. Customs can levy duties on those goods to offset the subsidies they received. PK&R, VFX Soldier noted in his post yesterday, “specializes in CVD issues” in industries such as lumber and shrimping.
“A U.S. producer for a film who chooses Vancouver as the location to execute VFX work for a significant rebate could find itself at risk of having to pay the whole rebate back to the U.S. government a year later after an annual review by Commerce,” VFX Soldier wrote, summarizing the effects of a CVD order. “That alone could be a powerful deterrent for locating VFX production somewhere based simply off of a rebate.”
In order to apply the laws in the U.S., a petition must be filed indicating support from at least 25 percent of the U.S. industry, and 50 percent of all those in the industry who express an opinion. What’s more, the industry would also need to demonstrate injury due to the foreign subsidies. In order to facilitate that, the law firm’s feasability study recommends the establishment of a “formal organization,” such as a trade association, to make strategic decisions and collect confidential business information for presentation to government agencies.
Given the still-fragmented state of the VFX industry in the U.S. and a potential lack of consensus on strategy and tactics, that could be the toughest part of the plan. The Visual Effects Society, for instance, has been strategizing on its own, lobbying for increases to tax subsidies in California — and thus alienating U.S. VFX artists who work in other states. Calls for a national VFX trade association haven’t yet come together in a meaningful way, though perhaps VFX Soldier’s ongoing campaign will provide a strong enough incentive for workers and/or compaines to organize.
The lawyers did note that the Film and Television Action Committee has been attacking foreign tax subsidies for years, with a failed attempt to curb Canadian subsidies through the U.S. Trade Representative in 2007 and a CVD petition in 2001 that was withdrawn when the FTAC’s coalition was unable to demonstrate enough industry support. To avoid the 2001 error, the firm recommends basing support on the production level of filmmaking companies, rather than counting support from individual workers in the industry. And it acknowledged that such data can be difficult to obtain.
The document from PK&R acknowledges that, even if a CVD order was obtained, it might be difficult to enforce, since post-production services on a film are not a physical “good” that has to cross a country’s border. But the lawyers said that any success in this area on the part of the VFX industry would make it much easier to negotiate restrictions on subsidies with individual countries. “If a CVD petition was even marginally successful, that development would change the way that subsidy recipients approach the issue,” the lawyers wrote. “For example, groups that today would be completely opposed to any limitations on subsidies might become amenable to discussing an international agreement that would impose meaningful limits on subsidies in this sector, in return for lifting CVDs.”
– See more at: http://www.studiodaily.com/2013/07/can-the-vfx-industry-make-hollywood-give-up-tax-subsidies/?sthash.Bw8W2kHx.mjjo#sthash.Bw8W2kHx.9J9qcWZh.dpuf
By TOM BUTTS, TVTECHNOLOGY on July 11, 2013 10:42 am
With much less fanfare than when HDTV was introduced in the market 15 years ago, the first UHDTVs started appearing in major consumer electronics retail showrooms this spring. Looking for a modest 55-inch set to replace your current one? You can drop a cool $5,000 on the Sony XBR55X900, which it announced at the NAB Show. For even less than that, you can purchase a Seiki Digital 50-inch screen for $1,400. A digital cinema enthusiast can splurge for a $17,000 LG 84-inch UHDTV.
Apart from a lighter wallet and neighborhood tech bragging rights, what are you really getting for all that? If you’re expecting what the marketers tell you, you’re getting state-of-the- art display technology but you’re also in for some frustration if expectations don’t meet reality.
What is the reality of UHDTV/4KTV today? A lot like it was in the early days of HDTV; that is, beautiful displays that looked nice on the wall but very little to no content. But unlike 15 years ago, expectations weren’t as high as they are today either. Back then, showing an analog picture side-by-side with HD was an eye opening experience for many consumers who were just beginning to enjoy digital quality imaging via DVDs (one could argue that it was DVDs that influenced consumers’ attitude about picture resolution more than HDTV). Today, with a TV life cycle replacement of 6-8 years, many viewers are just beginning to replace their first HDTV sets and many of them became disillusioned with the rapid rise and fall of 3DTV and are understandably skeptical about the next generation of TV technology.
A few of the major consumer electronics companies are aware of this and are trying to dampen enthusiasm. Several months ago, a Samsung executive told a gathering in Europe that when it comes to content, the current crop of UHDTVs are not market-ready. “No UHD TV today will be compatible with UHD standards to come,” said Michael Zoeller, Samsung’s senior director of sales and marketing for the company’s Europe market, according to TV Technology sister publication TWICE. Zoeller added that although Samsung’s line of UHDTVs offers an “Evolution kit” that keeps its S9 85-inch UHD backlit TV updated, even that will not last beyond four or five years.
With major manufacturers bleeding red ink over declining profits from TV set sales, the early decisions will go to those who also own the content. Sony, for example, is offering three 4K mastered 4K Blu-ray discs with the purchase of a new Sony 4K Ultra HDTV. For others though, the road to 4K content will be a long hard slog.
Some primetime television programming is being shot in 4K and that’s only expected to increase as production costs decline. Such future-proofing includes the ability to distribute that content to consumers, but simply put, the lack of infrastructure and evolving standards are standing in the way.
There are intermediate solutions, however. Upconverting 1080P content sounds promising except when you consider that very little of it is being broadcast to consumers already due to bandwidth constraints. Sharp’s new Ultra HD set offers advanced upscaling technology but early reviews have been mixed. Broadcasters are still years away from sending 4K pictures over the air, although the pressure of spectrum auctions and market demand could put pending standards such as ATSC 3.0 on the “fast track.” Ericsson recently demonstrated the first successful end-to-end transmission of true 4K UHD via satellite to Turner Broadcasting’s facilities in Atlanta. Netflix’s anticipated launch of 4K programming will present an interesting look at how such files are handled in an increasingly crowded broadband environment. And new standards such as 6G-SDI and HEVC and the increasing use of fiber in the facility make the future 4K facility inevitable.
As recently as a year ago, there was a high degree of skepticism in the broadcast engineering community about the future validity of 4K for the consumer market. That has subsided somewhat with the introduction of 4K-ready production gear introduced at this year’s NAB Show and the even more rapid market introduction of UHDTV. But as we report in this issue’s cover story on the format, putting all the pieces together for a true end-to-end 4K production/distribution workflow will take a bit longer. If content is the lifeblood of the media facility today, we’re going to need larger, more efficient arteries.
– See more at: http://www.c2meworld.com/creation/4k-ready-or-not/#sthash.mz2CJR1L.dpuf