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First TV Projects Approved for California’s Newly Expanded Film and TV Tax Credit Program

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The California Film Commission announced the list of 11 projects selected to receive tax credits under the first allocation of the state’s new Film and Television Tax Credit Program, which expands program funding from $100 million to $330 million annually.

“The newly expanded California Film Tax Credit is encouraging new TV production in the state and is bringing several projects from other states,” said senior advisor to Governor Jerry Brown, Mike Rossi. “California remains the home of the stuff dreams are made of.”

The program’s first application period, held May 11-17, was open only to television projects scheduled to begin production on or after July 1. A total of $55.2 million in credits was made available for new TV series, miniseries, movies of the week (MOWs) and pilots, along with $27.6 million for series relocating production to California from out of state. These allocations combine for a total of $82.8 million out of the first fiscal-year’s $230 million in funding. $100 million in annual funding is allocated to the final year of the state’s expiring tax credit program.

The approved projects include six new TV series, one pilot and four relocating TV series.

Based on data provided with each application, the 11 approved projects will generate an estimated $544 million in direct in-state spending, including $216 million in wages for below-the-line crew members.

“We are thrilled with the results from the program’s first application period,” said California Film Commission executive director Amy Lemisch. “California crews and support businesses will begin to feel the impact immediately as these first 11 projects begin pre-production. The number of projects planning to relocate to California confirms that our expanded incentive program is already working.”

Lemisch pointed out that four TV series are set to relocate production to California from Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland and North Carolina. The relocating series include American Horror Story, (Twentieth Century Fox); Hindsight, (Viacom); Secrets and Lies, (Touchstone Television), and Veep, (HBO).

The projects were selected based on their jobs ratio score, which ranks each project by wages to below-the-line workers, qualified spending (vendor payments, equipment, etc.) and other criteria. This new jobs ratio protocol for selecting projects replaces the prior lottery system.

The projects were selected from 37 TV projects that applied for the credits. The remaining projects with have been placed on a waiting list.

Another change under the newly-expanded program is eligibility to a wider range of TV project types, including new series for network, premium cable outlets and internet distribution, as well as pilots.

The new program allocates tax credits in “buckets” for different production categories, including TV projects, relocating TV series, independent projects and non-independent films. This enables applicants to compete for credits directly against comparable projects.

The California Film Commission also announced the list of projects approved conditionally for the final round of the state’s first-generation tax credit program, which held its final abbreviated lottery on April 1.

The abbreviated lottery was open only to independent projects due to the program’s success in attracting and retaining television series. A total of 16 films were selected to receive credits reserved specifically for independent projects. The rest of the old program’s final $100 annual allocation will go to the 11 returning TV series accepted for an automatic allocation renewal.

A total of 246 applications were received prior to the lottery held on April 1. As with past lotteries, the Film Commission expects many wait list projects to ultimately receive tax credits, as some approved projects withdraw due to scheduling delays and/or other production-related factors. When a project withdraws, its credits are reassigned to the project next in line on the waiting list.

Under both the old and new programs, the California Film Commission awards tax credits only after each selected project: 1) completes post-production, 2) verifies that in-state jobs were created, and 3) provides all required documentation, including audited cost reports.

The next application period for the new tax credit program is scheduled for July 13-25, with a funding bucket of $48.3 million for feature films and $6.9 million for independent projects.

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