Welcoming the giant E3 video game conference back to Los Angeles today, Mayor Eric Garcetti said it may make sense to include the booming game industry in production incentives designed to get and keep film and television production in the state. “There’s a collision of content in Los Angeles,” said Garcetti, who has been heavily involved trying to persuade state officials to enhance the California incentive program to keep more entertainment production. “The line between video games software and film/TV is blurring. They all have stories, they all use (similar production tools and processes) in the same way. L.A. is poised to take off. But it’s why we need those tax incentives in place.” Gov. Jerry Brown has stayed mum on a proposed expansion of the current $100 million California system, despite aggressive efforts by some other states and countries to lure away film and TV work with substantial tax breaks.
Related: City Of LA Praises Passage Of New Film & TV Tax Credit Bill
Garcetti used a ribbon-cutting ceremony to tout the budding economic recovery in Los Angeles in the year he’s been in office, particularly for creative industries. “This is the most creative spot in the world,” he said. “E3 has long been at that intersection of the creative world. In L.A., a new tech company starts every 40 hours. But long before this new boom, E3 understood. We are on fire and E3 is part of that momentum.” The conference officially opened at noon today and runs through Thursday evening. Already, several of the big game-related companies have held their big pre-show media briefings.
Related: E3: Games Frontrunner Sony To Launch $99 PlayStation TV, More
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The latest FilmLA survey puts some numbers on the losses Hollywood’s suffered from the proliferation of tax incentives in other states and countries in the past two decades. Although feature production has bounced back from 2009′s all-time low thanks to that year’s introduction of the CA Film & TV Tax Credit, only two $100M+ productions of 2013 were filmed in L.A. with California-based films accounting for just 9% of all feature production. Year over year local feature production was up 19% in 2013 from 2012 – still just half as robust as it was in 1996. On the small screen side, local TV drama production recovered slightly from its worst-ever 2012 showing, up 16% but still 39% below its peak in 2008, while sitcom production increased by 8% over 2012. Thanks to original programming pushes by companies like Netflix and Amazon, TV pilot production hit a record high although L.A. filming accounted for just 52%, compared to 82% in 2008. Read More »
California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) today announced a plan to introduce new film and television production tax credits for the state in January 2014, when the legislature returns from interim recess. Competitition from out-of-state incentive programs have been a prime concern in recent years particularly in Gatto’s Southern California district which spans Burbank, Glendale, and Hollywood and includes many of LA’s most prominent studios and post-facilities including DreamWorks, Disney, Universal, and Warner Bros. But Gatto and De Leon don’t expect an easy road ahead. They’re meeting with industry and studio figures as well as below the line pros and small business owners to gather feedback before setting the parameters of their proposed bill. “I think the entire program needs rethinking – not just renewing and throwing more money at it. We need to make incentives bigger and make them smarter and spend funds on things that matter,” Gatto told Deadline.
The California state Assembly Appropriations Committee has unanimously approved a bill extending the state’s film and television tax credit program for an additional two years, the LA Times reports. The current extension of the program that allocates $100 million yearly in credits expires next year. Industry proponents had hoped for a longer extension but lawmakers were skittish because of the state’s fiscal situation. The bill now heads to the full Assembly for a vote likely next week. The state Senate is expected to consider its version of the measure later this month.
Looks like Warner Bros is very good for business — if you are in LA County. According to figures released by the studio, Warner Bros spent $4.08 billion in the region in 2010. The money, first reported by the LA Times, broke down to $2.4 billion on pay to LA County citizens and $1.58 billion on goods and services. Broken down to specifics: It spent $18 million locally on adverting material; $3.4 million on building supplies; $2.4 million on catering and other food; and, getting back in production directly, $142.5 million on editing and postproduction services. Overall, Warner Bros spent $550 million in Burbank alone. The 2010 total is up from the $3.93 billion Warner Bros spent locally in 2006 and the $3.16 billion in 1999. Read More »
MTV is bringing back Teen Wolf for a third season, it was announced today at Comic-Con. The show’s star Tyler Posey first teased fans that the show hadn’t been picked up to cries from the crowd before springing the real news. The upcoming season is for 24 episodes, twice the number of the first- and second-season orders. The pickup was expected as Teen Wolf was recently one of the winners of California’s $100 million tax-credit lotto, after it applied for the credit as a relocating series. It previously filmed in Atlanta but will shoot in LA next season. The announcement was made during the show panel at the packed 6A Ballroom that included executive producer Jeff Davis as well as series stars Posey, Dylan O’Brien, Crystal Reed, Tyler Hoechlin, Holland Roden and Colton Haynes previewing the upcoming season. It kicked off with a well-received preview of MTV’s new American version of the UK teen show The Inbetweeners.
California’s lack of strong tax incentives is killing TV production in Los Angeles said FilmL.A. today. “For many years, we’ve relied on Television to backfill the hole left by the flight of feature film production from the L.A. region. Television has been our bread and butter, but with Sacramento’s inaction to stem our losses, other states and countries are eating off our plate,” claims the non-profit permitting group’s president Paul Audley. The statement came as the organization released a mixed second quarter report Tuesday. It also comes less than a week after the $100 million annual state incentive inched its way towards a two year extension in the Legislature. Off lot television production days in Los Angeles were down 15.4% this quarter, FilmL.A found. Last quarter the drop was 9%. The biggest drop was among Drama, which was down 39.2% from last year to 581 days, and Reality, which fell 16.8% from the same quarter last year to 1,461 days. At the same time the organization also says that production for Sitcoms was up 35.6% and TV pilots were up 36.8% to 253 days. The latter in no small part thanks to a late start to pilot season this year. Features were also actually up 9.1% for the quarter and commercials were up an impressive 28.1%. Of course, as indicative as those numbers appear, they have to be put into context. FilmL.A. does not … Read More »
UPDATED: The California Film Commission will hold a lottery on June 1st to select which qualified movie and TV production projects will receive the next $100M allocation of tax credits awarded under the state’s production incentive program. The commission will accept applications at its Hollywood Blvd. office on June 1 from 9AM to 3PM, at which time the lottery will be held. Applications received after 3PM will be processed the following day, according to the commission’s website. Projects that are not selected for credits via the first day’s lottery will be wait-listed, as some of the chosen projects drop out and credits become available. Of the total, $100 annual allocation, $10 million is reserved for indie films with minimum budgets of $1 million and maximum qualified expenditure budgets of $10 million. Feature films with budgets up to $75 million are eligible for a 20% credit. TV movies and miniseries with a minimum budget of $500,000 are also eligible for the 20% credit. New TV series licensed for cable TV are eligible if they meet minimum budget and other requirements. Existing TV series that formerly filmed all previous episodes outside California, as well as indie films, are eligible for a 25% credit, subject to budget and other restrictions. More information is available here.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill late last night that adds one year to the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program. Assembly Bill 1069 had been pared down from its original language that sought a five-year extension. Now, the program is ensured through 2015. It’s worth $100 million annually and was enacted in 2009 (signed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) to prevent runaway production to other states — and Canada — offering better incentives, though the program has been a tough sell in Sacramento as other state programs face substantial cuts to offset massive state debt.
Passing legislation in the California Legislature is always tedious what with all-night marathon sessions and hundreds of bills in a rush to pass before lawmakers adjourn for the year. So it was semi-miraculous that the tax breaks for California film and TV production received the OK — even if it was scaled-back, pared-down legislation. After passage of Assembly Bill 1069 by the Senate early today, the extension goes to Governor Jerry Brown for pro forma signing. This continuation of California’s showbiz incentive program was cut down from 5 years to just one year by the state Senate Appropriations Committee. It’s not the hoped-for 5-year extension of the $100M-per-annum Film & Television Tax Credit Program. That time element could still be OK-ed next year, despite the state’s $9B budget shortfall, because of the need to halt runaway production and compete with other states offering similar or greater tax breaks to film/TV producers. The program has brought $3.8B in economic output and supported 20,040 jobs since its inception in 2009.
California’s film and television tax credits would be extended five more years if the State Assembly has its way, after a bill that would add an extra $500 million to the program was approved today by a 72-1 vote. The state Senate will vote on the legislation, enacted in 2009 to slow runaway production, later in the summer. “What we’re doing with this bill is retaining and creating jobs by leveling the playing field and making California competitive again,” bill co-sponsor Felipe Fuentes told the LA Times. An additional $100 million is set to be allocated for the fiscal year that begins July 1, the Times said, but of course that’s if a new state budget is passed by then — Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed cuts are massive and could steamroll any proposed credit program; they also have generated serious pushback from both sides of the aisle. Also, a state budget has been signed into law only five times in two decades, according to Reuters, so who knows how long this could take. The California Film Commission, which administers the program, said that since the incentive was signed into law, its projects are responsible for $2.2 billion in direct spending within the state, including $756 million in wages paid to below-the-line crew.
It’s always been repugnant to me that, despite his years in Hollywood, Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger has done less than zero to stop runaway production or enact incentives to lure TV shows and films back to California and even Los Angeles. (Then again, very little that this piss poor political parvenu has done in the job deserves praise, period.) Clearly, I’m not alone in my lousy opinion of him. Because I’m told that most of the Los Angeles-based crew of the ABC hit show Ugly Betty are placing a full-page ad in Friday’s Variety that begs state and Los Angeles officials to do something to keep productions local. Many in the crew are losing their jobs after Ugly Betty became the first TV series to announce it’s leaving Los Angeles just two weeks after New York passed a bunch of new new tax credits to lure more showbiz productions. A source tells me that several dozen vendors for the series are paying for the ad “because they not only appreciate us and support us, but they are losing business, too.” Yes, the ad is addressed to other officials besides Ah-nuld. And so far there’s been barely a word from LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. But we all know that, in the case of California, the fish stinks from the head. And Schwarzenegger is too busy hanging around a Brentwood coffee cafe every morning enjoying his breakfast to bother with important state business like this. (And it also smells just as bad in the vicinity … Read More »