Just under a month after the California Film Commission plucked this year’s recipients of the state’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program in a lottery, we learned today who the winners are. Fox’s movie musical revolving around the songs of the Beach Boys and Universal’s Scarface reboot are among the 11 feature films getting a piece of this year’s incentive pie. (See the full list below.) In a rare runaway production reversal, a victory for those who want to bring Hollywood home and a very early renewal, BET’s Being Mary Jane will be relocating from Atlanta to L.A. for its upcoming third season thanks to the Golden State’s tax credits. This is the first news of the high-rated Gabrielle Union-starring show, which just got its official second-season green light back in February, getting a third season. Being Mary Jane joins 12 other basic cable TV series and two TV movies getting money to be made here.
Unlike the years since the credits were first introduced in 2009, the list of initially successful projects was not released almost right away by the state Commission because it wanted to make sure everyone was truly eligible. But now that due diligence has been done and the lucky ones have been privately informed, the Commission has revealed that a total of 26 projects will receive cash from California’s film and TV tax credits — 15 of the projects being studio-based and 11 independent. That total’s up from the 23 projects initially chosen out on June 3 of a record 497 applications submitted the day before. A few projects were dropped from consideration after it turned out they were ineligible. That moved some other projects off the long waiting list and on to the board, so to speak.
Like in previous years, this tax credit cycle also saw a number of returning projects, which had received incentives before and hence were grandfathered into this round. The 2014 allocation will help facilitate the sixth season of ABC Family‘s Pretty Little Liars, the fifth seasons of MTV’s Teen Wolf and BET’s Let’s Stay Together as well as the sixth and final season of FX‘s drama Justified. Not that today’s nearly a-month-in-the-making revelations are the final word on who gets what. Projects only get their credits once they create jobs in the state, complete postproduction and file all the required paperwork. Otherwise, other projects on the waiting list get a chance.
The California Film Commission estimates that the two-dozen-plus projects that have been allocated this year will generate $802 million in direct spending in the state. That includes more than $230 million in wages to below-the-line crewmembers.
Those wages and the middle-class jobs they facilitate are at the heart of recent legislative attempts that could see Cali’s film and TV tax incentives greatly expanded both in terms of dollars and scope in the next couple years. Introduced in late February by Democrats Mike Gatto and Raul Bocanegra, the anti-runaway production Film and Television Job Creation and Retention Act overwhelmingly passed the state Assembly on May 28. While without a dollar figure attached to it yet, the legislation was approved by the state Senate’s Governance and Finance Committee on June 25. It now moves to the Appropriations committee in Sacramento for a hearing in August. If it passes there, the Act will go to the full Senate for a floor vote and soon after to the still-on-the-fence incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown for a signature. While it will not change anything next year, if the Act becomes state law it will see the program on a stable footing from 2016 to 2021 and hopefully poised to more effectively compete with states such as New York, Georgia and Louisiana, Canadian provinces including British Columbia and Ontario and countries like the UK. As it is right now, 26 projects at least have the go ahead to make their movie or show in California.