A new law that changes Canada’s work permit rules might make it more difficult for American producers do business north of the border. “This effectively shuts down the ability for American producers to bring up actors, producers and directors to work on the shows up here,” an American producer shooting in Vancouver tells Deadline. The law was intended to reduce the number of foreign workers employed in the Canadian fast-food and oil-pipeline industries, but it could create a problem for the film and television industry.
The new law, which took effect Friday, requires employers to give 15 days’ notice before applying for permits to hire foreign workers. For American TV producers working under tight shooting schedules in Canada, this added lead time could make it much more difficult to bring in people from the States. Says the U.S. producer, “With less than eight days’ lead time and not a deep pool of Canadian actors and directors, not being able to hire American actors and directors will doom the large Canadian production industry.” Read More »
IATSE wants to flood Gov. Jerry Brown and Sacramento with letters urging an expansion of California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program. Last week the union sent out packages to members urging them to sign letters to two state Senate committees and the Governor to stop runaway production and pledge support and passage of the multi-sponsored Film and Television Job Creation and Retention Act. “We are in a fight to save our families and our livelihoods,” said the letter to Brown (read it here). “I respectfully ask you to be our champion and to save our iconic industry,” it adds. Though he takes money for his re-election from Hollywood moguls, Brown has refused to publicly state his support for a recent bill to expand the Golden State’s tax incentives to make them more competitive with other states, various Canadian and countries like the UK and stop jobs fleeing out of the home of Hollywood.
Introduced in late February by Democrats Mike Gatto and Raul Bocanegra,the state Assembly overwhelmingly passed the Act on May 28. While now allowing pics with budgets over $75 million and network pilots to be eligible for tax credits, the legislation, also known as AB 1839, still doesn’t yet have a dollar figure attached to it even though the state budget is now complete as of June 15. However, sources tell me a figure could be named in the next couple of weeks. The legislation is … Read More »
Don't Play The Film & TV Tax Credit Blame Game
Production is flowing out of the home of Hollywood as politicians seek to expand California’s 5-year old $100 million Film and TV tax credit program. Next week, new applicants will be picked by lottery for the upcoming year. Deadline’s Dominic Patten explains while there is lot of blame to go around from the loss of jobs and the sad state of the industry in California, don’t blame Canada.
UPDATED, 3:18 PM: The California Film and Television Production Alliance has weighed in with its support for today’s Assembly vote to expand California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program. “The strength of the unanimous vote demonstrates the Assembly Members’ clear understanding of the vital economic importance of the motion picture industry to California and their determination to return this state to a competitive position,” reads a statement from the coalition of guilds, unions, producers, small businesses and associations that promotes TV production in California. Its members include the Television Academy, SAG-AFTRA, CBS Studios, HBO, PGA, MPAA, DGA, Disney, more than 30 California cities and dozens of other groups. Read the full statement below the original post.
PREVIOUSLY, 1:38 PM: It’s not yet the law of the state, but efforts to expand California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program took a legislative leap forward today. In the midst of a bill-passing frenzy, the state Assembly voted overwhelmingly for legislation that hopes to halt production flooding out of the home of Hollywood. Introduced in late February, the multi-sponsored Film and Television Job Creation and Retention Act drew 62 yes votes from Assembly members in the chamber with zero opposed. Another 9 votes were added to the bill afterwards, as the Assembly’s rules allow, bringing the total to 71. The state Assembly has a total of 80 members.
Related: Where Hollywood’s Union Jobs Are Going: Call These States The Runaway 3
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The cast of one newly picked broadcast series wasn’t exactly jumping for joy during upfront week. That’s when the actors from the ABC alien drama The Whispers, which stars Milo Ventimiglia, Lily Rabe and Barry Sloane, found out that the series would be moving to Vancouver after filming the pilot in Los Angeles. I hear several members of the cast were not happy, and conversations are still ongoing with the series’ producer, ABC Studios. In the end, all actors will likely move or risk being sued for breach of contract. While I hear it wasn’t spelled out to the cast going into the pilot that the project will definitely move if picked up, there is nothing in the actors’ contracts that guarantees that the show would shoot in Los Angeles. Actually, I hear there is language that indicates that the show could move once ordered to series.
Related: Where Hollywood’s Union Jobs Are Going: Call These States The Runaway 3
Still, such uprooting is never pleasant and illustrates the toll runaway production takes on everyone. There are a lot of advantages to filming in Los Angeles — an abundance of production facilities and experienced crews, closeness to the project’s writers and executives, access to a pool of guest actors and directors as well as great climate and locations. The Whispers picked LA for the pilot mainly because it offered the variety of landscapes it needed, including desert. One thing Los Angeles does not offer is tax breaks, and that alone is pushing drama series production away from California.
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The once-tiny IATSE film and TV production locals in Georgia, Louisiana and New Mexico have seen their memberships skyrocket in recent years as more and more productions leave LA in search of bigger and better tax incentives. They’re where most of the domestic runaway production jobs are running away to. The film and TV workers union in Georgia has seen its membership increase by an eye-popping 1,100% during the past 11 years, the IATSE production local in Louisiana has had a 900% increase in its membership since 2003, and membership of New Mexico’s film local has grown by nearly 800% since 2001.
Related: IATSE Sound Local Put In Trusteeship After Leader Complains Of “Shakedown” By Leaders Of Louisiana Union
IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 479 in Atlanta may be the fastest-growing union in the U.S (see chart). In 2003, it had only 191 members; six years later, after the state’s 2008 tax incentives took effect, the local’s membership doubled in consecutive years, doubled again two years later, then nearly doubled again two years after that. It’s now the largest IATSE local outside of Los Angeles and New York, and if it continues to grow at this rate, in a few years it will be the largest in North America.
Related: Proposed New Film & TV Tax Credit Bill Takes Second Step Forward In Sacramento
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Kevin James will be saving Sony Pictures some money when he takes his Segway to Vegas. Nevada today approved its first film tax credit application, and it’s going to Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Eric Preiss, Director of the Nevada Film Office, said the production “will receive $4.3 million in tax credits provided that the filming takes place in Nevada and that production costs are in line with those proposed in the application, along with other qualifying criteria.” The Silver State enacted its inaugural production tax credit program nine months ago, with projects that shoot at least 60 percent in-state and spend $500,000 to $40 million there being eligible to earn a transferable tax credit worth 15%-19% of their in-state qualified expenses up to $20 million. Mall Cop 2‘s application for a Certificate of Eligibility for Transferable Tax Credits was approved following a public hearing last month. Preiss said the Nevada Film Office will hear three additional applications for tax credits on April 14, but he didn’t name the projects.
Related: Five Join Kevin James In Vegas-Set ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2′
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.
Tom Sherak Named As LA Film Czar By Mayor
LA Production Sees Double Digit Rise Over Q1 2012: FilmL.A.
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. Read More »
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. Read More »
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 Jan. 1, productions that shoot at least 60 percent in-state and spend $500,000 to $40 million there will be eligible to earn a transferable tax credit worth 15%-19% of their in-state qualified expenses up to $20 million. The tax credit can be used on all Nevada cast, crew, labor, materials, rentals and such. The bill, introduced in February by Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, moved quickly through the Legislature. It establishes a pilot program to be operated by the state Office of Economic Development. The OED will stop taking applications at the end of 2017, but those with unused credits will get the benefits until the program expires on June 30, 2023. Among those who testified for the state legislature to approve the program was Nicolas Cage. The actor went to Reno in May to speak with state officials.
‘Entourage’ Movie Among Winners Of California Tax Credit Production Lottery
New York Sees Rise In Film And TV Productions & Jobs: MPAA
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 Read More »
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. Read More »
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 Read More »