10 TV series, pilot filming in California to get new production tax credits

By Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News

More local film and television production work is on the way this summer, with the promise of a lot more to come, now that the California Film Commission has announced the first recipients of the state’s new, $330 million per-year tax credits program.

“I don’t want to hype things too much, but we should keep in mind that this is just the first year of a multiyear change,” said State Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, who co-introduced the legislation that raised California’s annual tax credit pot from $100 million. “This year, the numbers aren’t even as big as they will get next year. But this is a really, really good first step.”

Among the 11 television productions conditionally approved for incentives to shoot in California are four series relocating from other states — “American Horror Story” (from Louisiana), “Hindsight” (Georgia), “Secrets and Lies” (North Carolina) and “Veep” (Maryland); six new series — “Code Black,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Heart Breakers,” “Rosewood” and the first seasons of HBO’s “Utopia” and “Westworld”; and one pilot, “Snowfall.”

The television productions will draw tax credits from an allocation “bucket” of $82.8 million from the program’s first fiscal year, starting July 1. The rest of that initial $330 million will be allocated later; feature films apply for that category’s buckets in July.

The new system was approved last year by Sacramento to counteract the exodus of runaway productions to other states and countries with more generous incentives. It replaces the $100 million program just now ending.

The 11 TV productions were chosen out of 37 that applied by what’s being called a jobs ratio protocol. That means they were ranked by wages to below-the-line workers in California and payments to vendors, among other criteria. The previous lottery system was criticized as unpredictable and was much disliked by producers.

Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission, said the 11 shows announced Tuesday are expected to pump $544 million into direct California spending, including $216 million in below-the-line wages. She also explained how the new program attracts producers with more than just a higher overall outlay.

“When discussing what’s different this time, we should talk about expanded eligibility,” she said. “This is the first time, as far as new shows go, that network and pay cable series were eligible to apply, and you’ll notice from the list that we have quite a few of those that would have previously been ineligible.


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