California Tax Incentives Produced Only One Golden Globe Winner

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California spent $330 million last year to keep films and TV shows shooting in the state, but the projects it subsidized barely made a blip at the Golden Globes.

Of the statuettes handed out in 25 categories Sunday night, only one went to someone associated with a project that received California tax incentives. That sole winner was Sterling K. Brown, who took the Globe for best actor in a TV drama series for NBC’s This Is Us. His show got more than $9 million in tax credits from the state last year and is in line to receive nearly $10 million more in 2018, according to the California Film Commission.

Big Little Lies, which shot entirely in the state, was by far the biggest Globes winner on the TV side, taking home four awards – for best limited series or TV movie and three in the acting categories. But the show didn’t receive a dime in taxpayer-supported incentives.


The show was set in Monterey, but much of it was filmed in Malibu and Pasadena, where the scenes in homes of Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Renata (Laura Dern) and Jane (Shailene Woodley) were shot.

On the film side, James Franco took home the award for best actor in a motion picture, drama, for his starring role in The Disaster Artist, and Coco won for best animated feature. Both were filmed right here in Los Angeles, but neither received any tax credits. Coco wasn’t even eligible because animated projects don’t qualify for incentives.

The Golden Globes show itself, which aired live from the Beverly Hilton, didn’t receive any tax credits because live shows don’t qualify either.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti still was able to claim bragging rights, however, because seven of the 24 non-foreign language award winners were associated with projects that were shot, in whole or in part, in and around the city, though only one of those nominations — for This Is Us — was from an incentivized project.

“The Los Angeles region is the beating heart of the film and television industry and is home to the best talent in the business, with the technology, facilities, and resources to match,” said Garcetti in a statement released Monday. “I want to congratulate last night’s L.A.-region winners, and I look forward to another year of superior creativity and storytelling.”

Speaking to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in July, Garcetti said that he’d like to see the state’s incentives raised to at least $500 million a year, noting that a studio head told him that “it’s too darn hard to get that credit.”

According to FilmLA, the city’s film permit office, “Los Angeles-based film and television projects fared well at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards. L.A. based film and television projects received 36 total nominations in a variety of award categories.”

But of the 11 non-winning TV shows that shot in Los Angeles, only two received California film incentives. Twin Peaks, which received a best actor nomination, got $2.5 million in tax credits, while 13 Reasons Why, which received a best actress nom, got nearly $13 million last year.

The other non-winning nominated TV shows that shot in LA but received no tax credits are Ray Donovan, Feud: Bette and Joan, Black-ish, Will & GraceI Love Dick, Shameless, GLOW, Insecure and Better Things.

And of the four non-winning films that shot in LA, two received tax incentives from the state. Roman J. Israel, Esq., which received a best actor nomination for Denzel Washington, received $2.5 million in tax credits, while Battle of the Sexes, which was nominated for best actor and actress, got nearly $3.5 million. Dunkirk, which actually filmed some scenes in town, didn’t receive any of the state’s largess. Toon pic The Boss Baby didn’t qualify.

Projects are selected for tax credits based on their Jobs Ratio score, which is determined by the amount of qualified wages the project will generate divided by the amount of tax credits to be allocated, plus other factors including qualified spending for vendors and equipment. The base Jobs Ratio score can be increased up to 25% by accruing “bonus points” for in‐state spending on visual effects, filming outside the Los Angeles 30‐mile zone and filming at approved production facilities. All applications submitted during an application period are ranked from highest to lowest against comparable projects according to their Jobs Ratio score.

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