No Joke! Film Commission Sets April Fool’s Day For Final TV Tax Credits Lottery

The signing of the big expansion of California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program last September means big change is coming productionwise to the Golden State. However, even with the overall credit moving up to $330 million a year, change doesn’t always happen overnight. Today, with no irony intended I’m sure, the California Film Commission announced that April 1 would be the lottery day for applying eligible TV productions.  The very last lottery is the old approach but the new wave is coming quickly. The first application period for TV productions under the new non-lottery decided system with be May 11 – 17, 2015.

In both cases, credits for TV productions will formally handed out beginning on July 1. No details yet are known for the Film portion of the tax credit but that news on that part of the effort to return production to the home of Hollywood and stop filming fleeing to once more lucrative territories like Canada, the UK and states like Georgia and Louisiana is expected before the summer. Plans for a marketing campaign to get the studios and other described stakeholders informed and on board with the new incentives are expected to roll out in the next few week, sources tell me. The board of CFC are scheduled to vote on the new regulations for the new version of the program on February 12.

With $55.2 million available for new TV series, TV pilots, MOWs and Mini-series the first round of the new system will greatly expand the eligibility for network projects that had previously been excluded from the incentive. Unlike the hand of fate lottery system, projects will now be picked through a yet to be fully ironed out competitive ranking system strongly rooted in job creation among other criteria. And don’t worry if you don’t have a new project or you’d set up in another state before. There’s $27.6 million in incentives under the new program this time around for relocating TV series. The CFC is expected to announce dates for a second application period, which will include other categories, in the next few months if not weeks.

In terms of the current lottery system tax incentive allocation, there is still one more kick at the can for TV projects before the new non-lottery approach takes over. While moved up from the early June picking of last year, the April 1st application deadline and lottery will work the same as in past years since the system was introduced over 5 years ago. As in past years, the CFC will see a fair portion of its available credits on this round taken up by the grandfathering method that gives priority to renewed TV series that were past recipients of the incentive, like ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars.

california tax incentives aug 29 2014With that said, there’s still a lot of credit cash coming down the pipe in the next few months and over the next 5 years.The 2015 program melds this year’s already allocated $100 million with a new $230 million. The expansion that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into into law on September 18, 2014 outside of Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre will see $92 million for New TV Pilots and Renewed Series – that’s 40% of the allocation. The $80.4 million in credits for feature films amounts to 35% of the $330 million total, the second-largest part of the expanded program. The incentive allocation for features films goes up to $115 million from 2016 onward and the TV category rises to a solid $132 million for the remaining four years of the newly passed program. That’s more for each of those now- expanded categories than the entire total of the current program – and for the first time, pics with budgets over $75 million are eligible for the program.

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