Film Works Weekly Reel News Update
Welcome to another installment of Film Works Reel News Update, where we highlight recent news of interest to Film Works supporters. If you have thoughts about anything we include here, or if you want to recommend new topics for us to cover in the future, please leave us a comment below.
On-Location Filming in Los Angeles Region Down 2% Overall, But Features Up 16%
According to FilmL.A., while the first quarter of 2012 saw a healthy increase in on-location feature film production in L.A., the good news was overshadowed by a steep decline in television production.
Local feature production climbed 15.8% as measured in permitted production days (PPD), but television production slumped 9% during the period. One big reason was a lack of filming for TV Dramas; production in this important category declined almost 19% compared to the same period last year.
In a news release, FilmL.A. President Paul Audley explained how the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program influenced quarterly totals. Last quarter marked the first for which more state-qualified television productions filmed in L.A. than did state-qualified feature productions. In quarters past, clusters of state-qualified films drove big gains in area production, but the latest numbers for TV unfortunately weren’t as dramatic:
The Television numbers are generally in line with recent trends. TV Pilot projects are off to a slow start this year in Los Angeles, and even the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, which brought nine state-qualified television projects to Los Angeles last quarter, couldn’t arrest the Television category’s overall slump.
You can grab a copy of the full report over at FilmL.A.’s website.
Sony Screen Gems and Culver City Partnership Keeps Movie in California, out of Georgia
Back in December, the California Film & Television Tax Credit proved that we don’t need massive film subsidies like those offered by Louisiana or Georgia to keep major motion pictures filming in state.
Back then, the $50 million Matt Damon film We Bought a Zoo turned down roughly $15 million in free money from Georgia for less than half that amount in California. And now California has bested Georgia once again. The forthcoming Sony Screen Gems project Think Like a Man, which is based on a book by Georgia-native Steve Harvey, was primarily filmed in Culver City.
Glenn Gainor, head of production for Screen Gems, saw the project as an opportunity to bring the studio, local government and local business together to keep yet another project from leaving the state. Gainor said he was “inspired by how movies used to be made”:
“I came up with this idea that if we shot Culver City for Culver City, we could get the local politicians and shop owners on board and excited about this movie so that it would almost be a little post card for the community,” said Glenn Gainor, head of physical production for Screen Gems… [The company] considered filming in Georgia, where Harvey is based and which offers a richer film tax credit than California. But the company opted to film locally, in part because it was able to save money by filming so close to its home base, cutting down on parking and transportation costs. Producers also enlisted the help of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce to find local merchants willing to showcase their establishments in exchange for a lower film permit fee.
Screen Gems was also lucky enough to qualify for the California Film & Television Tax Credit and saved $10,000 because of a local tax break offered by Culver City, where city officials see the movie as a “point of pride”:
“They actually did more than just use the city as a location, they called out a number of business names from the downtown community and that’s unusual,” said City Councilman Andy Weissman. “Recognizing Culver City in a positive way is good for the brand.”
Kudos to Screen Gems and Culver City for proving that Film Works in California.
Lucasfilm Scraps Plan for New Movie Studio in Northern California
Apparently, some residents in Northern California’s Marin County, the long-time home of George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, aren’t all that concerned about runaway production.
Due to “bitter opposition” from some of its Marin County neighbors and related delays and setbacks on its new proposed studio, Lucasfilm Ltd. decided to cut its losses and take the project elsewhere.
Lucasfilm Ltd., the force behind the Star Wars movies, surprised Marin County by announcing that it has pulled the plug on the controversial Grady Ranch project, citing bitter opposition from neighbors and delays in the approval process… The company said it would construct new facilities elsewhere and hoped to sell the historic farmland to a developer interested in building low-income housing in an area about 15 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The plan called for a 269,000-square-foot digital media studio that would have included a 51-foot-tall, mission-style compound with two 85-foot towers, two indoor sound stages and an outdoor stage of nearly 7,000 square feet. There would also be screening rooms, guest housing, a general store, employee cafeteria and wine cave.
Lucasfilm’s announcement was a major blow to backers of the project, as well as Marin County’s economy, which stood to gain “hundreds of high-paying jobs”:
“We love working and living in Marin, but the residents of Lucas Valley have fought this project for 25 years, and enough is enough,” the company said in a statement. “We have several opportunities to build the production stages in communities that see us as a creative asset, not as an evil empire.”
Lucasfilm has not disclosed which cities it is considering moving the project to, but hopefully the massive studio and the hundreds of high-tech film jobs will find a home in California rather than another state or nation.