UPDATE, 5:22 PM: The lottery is over and 28 projects were selected today for this year’s California’s $100 million Film and TV tax credit program. That’s even with the 28 projects that were initially approved on June 1, 2012 in last year’s lottery. The doors closed Monday at 3 PM at the Film Commission’s office on Hollywood Boulevard with the last few applicants getting their submissions in under the wire. Soon afterwards, the random picking process began. A total of 380 projects were submitted between 9 AM and 3 PM today before the deadline. That’s a record for the program since it was introduced in 2009. The previous high was the 322 projects submitted last year for 2012’s $100 million allocation. A Deputy State Fire Marshal actually picked tickets out of a cylinder built for just such a lottery purpose. Each ticket had an allocated number on it that each submitted project was given Monday. All the remaining projects will now go on a waiting list in case approved film or TV projects drop out or have production or scheduling delays and lose their place and credits. Though 28 projects were first approved last year, the total figure that actually received tax credits actually ended up being 75. Today’s approved figure could also change as the Commission conducts a more thorough review of the projects. This year’s initial successful applicants will be contacted tomorrow. A full list of the features, miniseries, MOWs and TV series that were awarded a portion of this year’s $100 million and how much they received is expected Tuesday afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed Hollywood.
PREVIOUSLY, 2:05 PM: There’s less than an hour left if you want to take a chance at getting a piece of this year’s $100 million California film and TV tax credit program. The state Film Commission is accepting applications until 3 PM PT at its Hollywood Boulevard offices for this year’s lottery, and then Lady Luck works her magic. “At 3 PM we’ll close the door so that we can conduct our lottery with assistance from the Deputy State Fire Marshal” who adds another layer of transparency to the process, Film Commission executive director Amy Lemisch told me today. “The lottery ensures credits are distributed fairly”. Once the $100 million is used up, remaining projects that didn’t receive funding will be put on a waiting list. That list isn’t quite the purgatory one might think: If already-approved projects drop off due to scheduling or production delays, those on the list will take their place and credits. Last year, 28 projects initially won a piece of the up-to-25% tax credit program.
The commission expects to have information on how many projects were submitted this time round sometime this evening, and Deadline will update with that information when we get it. Detailed information is coming tomorrow offering the breakdown of winners in terms of studio vs. independent, film vs. television, and other.
California’s credit program was put in place in 2009 to stem the exodus of runaway production to other U.S. states and Canada that offer strong incentives to TV shows and feature films. Last year, 322 projects were submitted for the lottery. That was up from 177 applications received in 2011. Of those submitted in 2012, Justified, Teen Wolf, Pretty Little Liars and ABC’s now-cancelled Body Of Proof were among the 10 film and 18 TV productions chosen last June 1 to receive tax credits to film in California. This year’s applicants will be participating in the first lottery since Gov. Jerry Brown signed a two-year extension of the program late last September. With the extension in place, the program is now set to run until July 2017.
Under the current state system, feature films with budgets from $1 million-$75 million, new TV series with a minimum budget of $1 million, and licensed for original distribution on basic cable and MOWs or miniseries with a $500,000 minimum production budget are eligible for a 20% tax credit. That means that big-budget blockbusters can’t apply. Which is why, even with a 3.7% rise in filming of features in LA in 2012, California’s program has done little to stop the likes of Iron Man 3 from filming in North Carolina last year or Spider-Man 2 from currently shooting in New York. Those states, and others like Georgia and Louisiana to name a few, offer much more lucrative incentives for tentpoles. With a $420 million film/TV tax credit program in place, New York is No. 1 in the nation and more than four times bigger than what the state that houses Hollywood puts on the table.
Independent films actually receive designated allocation under California’s system, with a minimum of $10 million in funding designated for indie films annually. Indies with a $1 million-$10 million total expenditures budget are qualified for a 25% tax credit, as are TV series that previously filmed all its episodes outside the state.