After over half a decade, the final lottery in California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program came to a quiet end on Wednesday. As announced back in February, just $10 million was left on the table for independent TV projects this week. The other $90 million is already set to go to renewed television series that have received credits in the past like ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars.
After the doors closed at 3 PM on April 1 at the Hollywood offices of the California Film Commission, a member of the LAFD pulled tagged projects for the seventh and last lottery at random. Of a total of 246 applications, 18 were tentatively selected for tax credits. However, as in past years, with some projects not meeting all the criteria or unable to meet budgetary deadlines and requirements, a number of the 228 projects on the current waiting list could see themselves getting a part of the incentive. The CFC will release a list naming the projects that were selected under the last lottery on July 1, the same day the new program official kicks in.
By then, the first application period for all TV productions under the new $330 million a year non-lottery decided system would have already taken place. With network shows, pilots and more now eligible, May 11 – 17, 2015 will see applications being taken digitally. The first applications for features will be from July 13-25 and will see films with budgets over $75 million eligible for the first time. While still awaiting approval on new regs from the state, CFC Executive Director Amy Lemisch has said the process of selection could take about 2 weeks under the new system.
Though any comparison is unfair with all the restrictions this year and only indie TV applying, 2014 saw a record number of 497 applications for the lottery with 23 initially selected. The Golden State’s $100 million incentives program was introduced in 2009 to stop the flood of runaway production out of California and competition from other states and the likes of Canada and the UK.
Getting rid of the much criticized lottery was an 11th hour addition last summer to the incentives expansion legislation designed to return Hollywood to the home of Hollywood. One of the architects of the law Gov. Jerry Brown signed in Hollywood on September 18 wasn’t sad to see the lottery’s last day.
“The lottery served its purpose and helped the state make the most of a program that everyone knew was far too modest,” said Rajiv Dalal, who stepped down on March 4 as L.A.’s deputy film czar and is now running for California’s 43rd Assembly District, which is presently held by the term limited Mike Gatto, who co-authored the bill that tripled the tax credits. “After this final lottery we can put the long lines and uncertainty behind us, as the state implements an expanded program that selects projects based not on chance, but rather economic impact and middle class job creation.”