If you were looking to get your application in today for the latest round of the Golden State’s $330 million film and television tax incentive, you probably hit a digital wall – at least for a while. Though it seems to be working again, one week into the California Film Commission’s first non-lottery allocation period for feature films, the state unit’s website crashed Monday for several hours.
With the process halted, that left filmmakers and studios trying to get a piece of the $48.3 million for tentpoles and non-independents, and $6.9 million for independents literally left watching hanging this afternoon. The server that houses the online application for the up to 25% tax credits was down for about 2 hours today, I’ve learned. “The problem was resolved by the IT folks in Sacramento, and the system is back up and running,” a CFC spokesperson told Deadline this evening. The downtime hit other state functions as well, as a variety of services run off the same server. With all applications having to be submitted online, the submission period for features runs from July 13 to July 25. There is no word on whether there will be an extension of the application period because of the issue today.
“I thought it might be a problem at our end but the Film office told us it was their server,” one applicant told me this afternoon. “I asked if the server crashed because of too much volume but the staffer in the Incentives office wouldn’t say,” said another frustrated filmmaker Monday. Based on employment creation criteria, the top ranked applicants are expected to know by July 27 if they are in the running for the lucrative tax credits. At that point, a further culling will take place, as more information and documentation will be required from those seeking the incentives. As a part of both halting runaway production and growing Hollywood jobs in the home of Hollywood, projects are ranked and chosen primarily on their jobs ratio score, which ranks each production by wages to below-the-line workers, qualified spending and other criteria.
While the first application round for features under the new non-lottery system that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last September, the current and interrupted period is actually the second so far under the new system. Purely for TV, the first round ran from May 11 to May 17 and saw 37 projects apply for the $82.8 million in tax credits.
With HBO’s relocating Veep and the upcoming Westworld plus FX’s American Horror Story among the successful candidates, 11 projects were selected in early June to receive the credits. We won’t know for at least another couple of weeks who were the winners among the feature applicants. What we do know is that this year marks the first time since California introduced film and TV tax incentives that pics with budgets over $75 million will be eligible. The conventional wisdom is those big movies will create an economic effect that will benefit a wider range of vendors and other production support.