Think Mayor Eric Garcetti‘s going to sign this legislation? Hint: He co-authored it. The LA City Council voted unanimously today to approve the final version of a measure aimed at luring more TV pilots to the city. It will waive municipal fees on pilot production, continuing Garcetti’s pro-filming stance that is catnip to his constituency. The move comes week after FilmLA reported that Los Angeles saw more on-location filming for a third consecutive quarter. But attracting more pilots has been a priority for the city, following the June release of FilmLA’s latest TV Pilot Production Report. It noted that, while production was up in terms of dollars spent and filming days, LA has been losing market share — down to 52%, off nearly double digits from 2012. Today’s move by the City Council follows its approval of an unpolished version of the pilot-production fee-waiver measure in February.
As my colleague Dominic Patten was first to report earlier today on Deadline, former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak has been named to the new post of LA Film Czar by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Sherak will be paid only $1 a year (“an infinity compared to what the Academy paid,” he laughed about his previous nonpaying gig) in the post designed to bring a halt to runaway production and put it back in Los Angeles, capital of the film world. Of course Sherak is no stranger to politics, of a sort: Being a former President of the Motion Picture Academy is no walk in the park. He knows the real “capital” is Sacramento, where he will spend time trying to convince Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers this is an important issue — not only for Los Angeles but California as a whole. In a conversation that turned very personal this afternoon, Sherak told me he initially resisted the job but took it only after a meeting with Garcetti this week and an OK from his oncologist. Sherak has gone public with his 12-year battle against prostate cancer and expects to be up to the task full time in a few weeks after final chemotherapy treatments. He’s even jokes now that he’s the “czar,” does that mean he can pick his own spot for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
DEADLINE: With everything going on in your personal life right now and your regular paying job as an industry consultant, why take this on?
TOM SHERAK: I resisted it, but I got a call from two of Garcetti’s people saying they’ve vetted me and they want me to meet about this job. So I went to lunch with them, and they said, ‘We’ve talked to the mayor, and he’s approved this and we want you to take it.” And I said I would have to think about it. I went home and I thought about it. And again, I am going through all kinds of stuff with my body, and somebody once said don’t make a decision when your body’s going one way and your head’s going another way. I took another couple of days and said I wanted to meet with the mayor. This past Monday I met with the mayor, and when the hour-and-15-minute conversation was over, if he offered me the Brooklyn Bridge I might have bought it from him. … I told him when it was all done to let me go home and talk to (my wife). I did, and she said, “Take it.” I next called my oncologist, and he said, “Tom, take it; you’re going to be fine.” And that’s what happened.
Los Angeles-area movie production took another gut punch a few days ago when news surfaced that the Man of Steel sequel will shoot in Detroit. But now comes a glimmer of good news for locals lamenting runaway production: North Carolina is nearing an end to its tax incentive for filming there. The Wall Street Journal reports that although the Legislature voted in July to fund the program for two more years, it is targeted to end after 2014.
According to the North Carolina Film Office, the Tarheel State is fifth in the nation when it comes to production revenue, trailing only California, New York, Georgia and Louisiana. The state — which offers a 25% refundable tax credit — is coming off back-to-back record years for film production, taking in $376 million in 2012 that created more than 4,100 full-time crew jobs. Last year it hosted shoots for projects including Iron Man 3 and Homeland. “It is amazing to see what has taken place the past two years in North Carolina,” said NC Film Office Director Aaron Syrett said in his 2012 report. “Not only were we able to exceed our record-breaking numbers from 2011, but we continue to grow throughout the state.” But that was in December.
Just days after Texas tripled its film and TV production tax incentives, Nevada has gotten into the game. Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed the state’s first program aimed at luring productions away from California and elsewhere. Starting …
Malaysia Enacts 30% Cash Rebate For Runaway Production
U.S. location scouts can now add Malaysia to the list of countries that offer incentives for offshore production and post work. The Malaysian government enacted Tuesday a 30% cash rebate for foreign film and TV productions that spend a minimum of RM5 million ($1.6million) in the country; for local projects it’s RM2 million. The minimum spend for the post rebate is RM1.5 million. The government aims to draw runaway productions to its new $130 million facility, Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios. Located in Johor in the southern tip of the country, the studios were developed in collaboration with the UK’s Pinewood Studios Group. Five sound stages plus production offices, hair, make-up and wardrobe facilities and construction workshops are due to open in May. Two HD-equipped TV studios and the post facility are scheduled to open in September. “We are in discussions on several projects,” the facility’s CEO Michael Lake tells Deadline. ” Many producers were waiting for the release of these guidelines before committing to film in Malaysia.” The government hopes the “Film in Malaysia Incentive” will also encourage Malaysian film producers to produce content for domestic and international markets.- Don Groves
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
The soaring Oz dollar has all but wiped out Australia as a runaway production location, with no U.S. films and only one U.S. TV project, Sony Pictures Television’s drama pilot Frontier, shooting Down Under in 2011-2012. Foreign productions spent just $A49M ($50.9M) in that period, down from $86M the prior year which was boosted by Fox’s series Terra Nova, according to Screen Australia’s annual drama report released today. The report will intensify industry calls for the Australian government to lift the 16.5% location rebate to 30%. The government says it will announce its decision later this year. On the upside, the total spend on film and TV drama jumped by 25% to a record $623M. And last year’s hike of the post, digital and visual effects rebate from 16.5% to 30% resulted in the highest activity in that area for five years, with post houses attracting 17 films including Ted, The Hunger Games and Marvel’s The Avengers. Some 47% of total drama spend went on 28 Australian feature films including Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (which qualifies as an Australian production) and I, Frankenstein, plus three small foreign features.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Malaysia Offers Runaway Production Incentives, European Film Academy Honors Bernardo Bertolucci
Malaysia Chases Runaway Production With 30% Incentive, New Studios
Malaysia looms as the next hot destination for U.S. and other runaway production with the lures of a 30% cash rebate on production costs and a new $130M facility, Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios. The incentive will be available to all productions which start principal photography in Malaysia from Jan. 1, 2013 and includes the salaries of foreign cast and crew while working in the country. There is a minimum production spend of RM5M ($1.6M) for foreign projects and RM2M for local productions. Located in Johor in the southern tip of the country, the studios are financed by the Malaysian government’s investment arm Khazanah and are being developed in collaboration with the UK’s Pinewood Studios Group. Five sound stages plus production offices, hair, make-up and wardrobe facilities and construction workshops are due to open next May. Two HD-equipped TV studios and post production facility are scheduled to open in September. “There is a lot of interest in the facility from the U.S., Europe, India and Australia,” the studios’ chief executive Michael Lake tells Deadline. Lake ran the Warner Roadshow Studios in Australia for many years and later served as president of WWE Films. “We are still finalizing our rate card and once that is done we will be aggressively chasing firm bookings,” he said. “ I am in advanced discussions with four productions at the moment.” - Don Groves