- Parent Category: Preproduction
- Category: Locations
- Published on Wednesday, 09 July 2008 17:13
- Written by Frank and Margie Barron
With the current economic climate, it’s a fact that most productions aren’t going to get the green light without careful consideration of the production...
With the current economic climate, it’s a fact that most productions aren’t going to get the green light without careful consideration of the production budget. And states that offer the best incentives, along with support facilities and services, plus impressive crews, are getting a boost from filmmakers taking notice of how much money they can save. That’s changing the way the industry does business.
“The large incentives offered by states will absolutely play a part in where we shoot,” says director/writer/producer Mick Garris, who is in preproduction on the Stephen King feature film Bag of Bones. He goes on to share that Michigan and Massachusetts are among the places that are creating a favorable situation for filmmakers that are making an effort to provide help with budget concerns.
Tax credits and rebates are a major lure for tight-budgeted television movies. Von Zerneck-Sertner Productions have been prolific with their telefilms for networks and cable over the years, and have seen their dollars stretch by shooting in Canada, Australia, and other parts of the world. But now the U.S. is getting more competitive and that pleases producer Frank von Zerneck. He explains that although incentives initially drove him to Louisiana, “the crews and the ever-expanding production facilities have kept us coming back.”
That’s how the system works nowadays, according to veteran producer/writer Michael Sloan. As more filmmakers embrace certain states, they start to create production centers that encourage local talent, which expands the crew base and infrastructure. But arguably, it’s the incentives that fuel that engine. And here’s the latest list, in no particular order, of locations that are going full steam ahead with their enticing offers, which have already seen major productions come on board, bolstering the economy of the film-friendly states.
The big news this summer is that after two seasons of filming in Hollywood, ABC’s Ugly Betty series is headed to New York, thanks to the lure of the Empire State Film Production Credit program. The newly increased refundable film production tax credit of 30 percent will greatly help with the series’ budget, which is reported at $3 million per episode. And Betty has another pretty incentive to move to Manhattan. The Made in New York Incentive Program provides an additional 5 percent tax credit for qualified productions shot in New York City. Other NYC benefits include free permits in all five boroughs and no charge for police. And making it even easier is the concierge service offered, providing help with budget analysis, scouting, story development, and discounts from hotels, car rentals, and other vendors.
In addition to the state’s refundable 30 percent tax credit on in-state, below-the-line costs ─ that are up from 10 percent ─ there is an investment tax credit for qualified production facilities. The criterion is that the feature films, episodic shows, pilots, etc., do the majority of their filming, spending 75 percent or more, at qualified facilities in the state. According to Pat Kaufman of the New York State Governor’s Office, productions that might have shot in Louisiana or Toronto are coming back to New York.
Long ago, New York learned that being a film-friendly state reaps many financial benefits. When Law & Order set up shop in the Big Apple in 1990, producer Dick Wolf admits that filming around Manhattan with the unions, traffic, permits problems, etc., was a little bumpy early on. But working with the film office paved the way for smoother shoots. As the efforts to increase tax incentives grew, so did Wolf’s love for New York, reminding us that “The city is a main character in all of the Law & Order shows.”
Recent productions include: Ugly Betty and Life on Mars for ABC, Fox’s Fringe, NBC’s Kings, plus many features around the state.
Connecticut has experienced a 1/2 billion dollars worth of production expenditures since the July 2006 inception of the state’s 30 percent Digital Media and Motion Picture Tax Credit Program. That is a transferable tax credit given to qualified production expenses ─ including labor ─ spent in the state. No minimum filming days are set, but a minimum spend of $50,000 is a requirement.
“To further continue our commitment to the industry, we now have three tax credit programs that include production, infrastructure, and digital animation,” according to Ellen Woolf of the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism Film Division in Hartford.
Accompanying the marked rise in production is a successful and ongoing expansion, with regard to infrastructure, crew base, and production services. Raven-Symone` helped produce and starred in College Road Trip, filmed in Connecticut and was pleased with the tremendous support offered by the state, as well as “the many looks we needed to film a cross-country trip.”
Recent productions include: Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Vicious Kind, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Farlanders, 25/8, Everybody’s Fine, All Good Things, and Once More With Feeling. Website: www.ctfilm.com