I’m ready for the industry, where should I move?

Graduating college is always a time of mixed emotions. People are excited to get out in the world and put there years of training and learning experiences to work. But where is one to go to start that journey? For film grads that list may have gotten a little bigger when it comes to where one should post up. This has a lot to do with the fact that there is a new trend in the film industry, the trend of film incentives. It seems to be the cool thing to do if you’re a state that wants to get Hollywood status and attract big name productions to shoot in their back doors. But what exactly is a film incentive program and why are they causing such a buzz in the industry?

film-money

Film incentive program are exactly what they sound like. They provide benefits to filmmakers, studios that they would not get if they shot somewhere else. Every states policy is different and some are better then others. Not everyone is eligible either. There are certain parameters that your production must follow to qualify. But if you do you’re looking at saving a game-changing amount of money. This also brings many jobs into the state as well as boosting tourism. The incentive programs seem like a great idea. But how is one to choose which state is right for them with their incentive programs?

In 2005, the state of Georgia passed the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment act. Soon after the passing of the new film incentives, hundreds of production companies started to flock to Georgia. Some of the most famous production companies include Pinewood Studio’s, Screen Gems, Turner Broadcasting Studios and many more.

Georgia

According to a recent press release by the state of Georgia, over 158 feature films and television productions have been shot in Georgia in the last few years. This has created a economic impact of $5.1 billion just in 2014. Also in this press release Governor Nathan Deal expressed his excitement and satisfaction with the Georgia film incentives by saying, “Not only has this industry created jobs and investment opportunities for Georgians, it also has revitalized communities, established new educational programs, tourism product and more.” Since the film incentive program was initiated, over 77,900 jobs have been created in Georgia. So what makes Georgia film incentive program different from its neighboring states?

Georgia’s success in the film industry is thanks to a well thought out incentive program. According to the state of Georgia website, Georgia production incentives provide up to 30% of all Georgia productions expenses in transferable credits. Most importantly, in order to even qualify for these film incentives your production must spend over $500,000. In closing, Georgia is a very diverse state when it comes to landscape and people. Many Georgian filmmakers and lawmakers have worked hard for years to bring a booming film industry to Georgia. Now that Georgia is booming, the state continues to fund and support the film industry as best as they can.

Louisiana

For upcoming film graduates there are many different states with job opportunities around the US. In particular, Louisiana is one of them and has a major impact on the film world. In 2012 Film and TV producers spent $717 million in the state, which is an 85% increase since 2010 according to Forbes. In order to film in the state there is a $300,000 minimum spend requirement, there will be a 30% tax credit on qualified direct productions. An additional 5% tax credit for payroll expenditures , with no annual cap. Also tax credits can be used to offset income tax liablities , sold back to the state for 85% face value, or brokered on the open market according to filmneworleans.org. Companies like Beverly Boy Productions, and Digital FX Inc which has the largest post-production facility in the region. Are producing and hiring for many different upcoming projects. Industry proffesionals and student graduates are flocking to the state for jobs. Only time will tell how well Lousianna’s Film incentives hold up, but for now it’s looking like one of the top places to go to find film work.

New York

There is no other city like New York. The city cannot truly be duplicated in a soundstage or on a backlot. Because of the uniqueness of the city it will always be a destination for film production. The New York Sate Film Tax Credit Program has been set up with the intent to make filmmaking affordable in New York. Many major television shows and films are produced in the state and the tax incentive has set aside $420 million per year for those productions. The tax credit program has a separate credits; one for a production budget and one for post-production. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently extended the incentive until 2019 as well as increasing the scope of the program. With this extension, New York looks to continue to be one of the industry leaders in tax incentives  With this, it is safe to say that there will always be some type of major industry work to be found in New York; there is a concerted effort to keep productions in the state as well as to draw more in. 

California

California is probably the place on most graduating film student’s radar. Hollywood is where you would think production would be booming and finding work would not be an issue. California’s program was actually lacking and many of the work their was on its way out. They had a lottery system in place that made it difficult to take advantage of the tax and cap was less then most other film incentive programs. But now California passed a new bill quadrupling its tax incentives to $400 million dollars as well as eliminating the lottery pick system. The decision process will be based on a scoring system in association with the Sate government’s office. The bill orders the CFC to create a scoring system in collaboration with GoBiz, the governor’s office that promotes business and job growth in the state. New productions can qualify for tax credits from 15 % to 20 % of what will be spent in the state. With productions coming from outside of California, they can get up to 25 %. There is also a 5 % bonus in some cases for productions done outside the Los Angeles 30-mile zone. 

“The bill is the spirit of me, Kevin De Leon. I thought the bill needed more accountability and more transparency. The end goal is maximum economic output to make sure the taxpayers are getting the most bang for the buck.”

Kevin De Leon, President pro tempore of the Senate 

This program will surely move California back to its former glory and the opportunities will once again flourish the golden streets of tinsel town.

Michigan

Michigan has announced to set aside $50 million for film incentives in 2015, making it one of the best states to work on movies in. The original incentive was set to be $25 million in 2015, but the spending was re-classified as ongoing rather than one-time. Governor Rick Snyder fights for a cutback to $25 million, but Michigan’s Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville argues that Michigan needs larger incentives, because they need more jobs and that filmmaking is not just a one-year project, it will keep going over the years. One of the most anticipated films, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is currently Michigan’s biggest production with a $131 million budget. “The movie will pour around $131 million into the state, hire 406 Michigan workers, use 500 Michigan vendors, spend $5.1 million on hotels and pay $3.5 million to cast and crew in per diem payments” Morgan states in his article.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania offers a 25% tax credit to anything shoot in the state. A project is eligible if at least 60% of the project’s Total Production Budget is used for Qualified Pennsylvania Production Expenses. The credits will not exceed a total of 20% of the states available budget. Whether it’s a feature film, television series, game show or talk show. A benefit to filming in this state is they allow you to apply for the credit up to 90 days prior to filming. You must fill out and submit an application to the film commission and they will process the tax credits in one of several 90-day periods. Depending on when you’re shooting. They review them during July 1st through September 30th; October 1st through December 31st; January 1st through March 31st; and April 1st through June 30th.

Texas

The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program (TMIIIP) made a huge step last year with the approval of another extra $63 million after being cut down to $32 million in 2009. The “single star” state has become an attractive place for producers and other filmmakers, since the approval of the film incentive program mentioned above in 2007. When the program first began the initial amount of incentives corresponded to $32 million dollars designated only to film productions. But with the new changes made last year the program has reached the massive amount of $95 million which might seem insignificant compared to other competitors like New York and California with it’s upcoming new tax incentive program, although, this renewal is a great step for the State of Texas in general due to the massive amount of film and other related entertainment productions that have taken place there. All the way from small independent features to big and successful Hollywood projects such as: “There will Be Blood”, “Cast Away”, “Friday Night Lights”, “Spy Kids” , “No Country For Old Men” , “Apollo 13” or “True Grit” and other big television series like “Barney and Friends” , “The Bridge”, and recently “Dallas” and “The Night Shift” etc. It’s pretty clear that Texas has become an important option for several filmmakers looking for opportunities In the film and television industry, and it’s also thanks to local talent and crew members that the construction of several facilities has increased around the area. The creation of the TMIIIP has rewarded the State of Texas with $744 million spent on productions within it’s territory, and it promises a brighter future as more television networks look for opportunities to adapt and shoot their productions over there. Just recently, TNT announced that J.J. Abrams-produced drama “Revolution” will be shooting its third season in Austin, this can be obviously related to the new offered state’s incentives.    

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 2.42.59 PMThe choices seem to be stacking up for where on should start their journey for a star on the walk of fame. These film incentive program’s are not a common thing in all states. Many states do not have them. States like Florida, Washington, or Arizona have all dropped their incentive programs due to a number of issues. When it all comes down to it these incentive programs give the underdogs a chance at getting into the game. But nothing lasts forever so the time is now. Hopefully this list gives enough information about the so called powerhouse incentive states. The phrase strike whil the iols hot has never been more fittimng then it is for the film grads reading this article. Hopefully they make a choice before the credits roll.

 

 

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