Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Commercial Filming is Down - Bad Sign for Economy?

Commercial film production in California has been a bright spot for some time. Until lately it has been fairly robust. Now it is down about 8% over last year. Is that because companies are filming their commercials somewhere else, or have they given up on trying to seduce the public to buy and are simply not advertising?

Fortunately ad agencies and the media won't notice it if their bottom line is negatively affected by the loss of revenue from corporate advertising, because it will be more than made up with political ads for the next two years. (Heaven help us.) But what does it mean if corporations are not making new commercials? They have plenty of money, but they're not hiring, they're not expanding, and now they're not advertising?


Saturday, July 2, 2011

More Good News

There has been a lot of good news about the effectiveness of the California tax incentive program to keep film production in our state. The LA County Economic Development Corp. announced that the incentive program pumped $3.8 billion into the California economy and created 20,000 jobs in the last two years.

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes from Sylmar proposed a bill to extend the program for five years after the current program expires in 2014. The bill has passed the Assembly, and goes before the Senate in the next two weeks.

Call your State Senator and tell him or her that you want them to support the proposed legislation. It's a pretty fair bet that senators from LA County will support it. The question is, will the senators in other districts support it? Do they get it? Do they understand that the program benefits all of California?

By the way, Larry Crowne with Tom Hanks & Julia Roberts was filmed in our back yard. So let's support Hanks and his Playtone Production Company.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Who Received a Piece of the Pie?

Earlier this month, the California Film Commission, headed up by Amy Lemisch, announced which productions would receive a piece of the California Tax Incentive Program.

The breakdown of projects selected (based on type of production) is as follows:
- Feature (Studio) -- 4 projects (14.8%)
- Feature (Indie) -- 10 projects (37%)
- TV Series -- 10 projects (37%)
- MOW (Studio) -- 0
- MOW (Indie) -- 1 (3.7%)
- Relocating TV -- 2 (7.40%)

Based on information provided by each applicant, it is estimated that these projects will
spend more than $662 million in California, including nearly $234 million in qualified wages.
They will employ an estimated 3,048 cast members, 3,307 crew members and 49,778
extras/stand-ins (calculated in "man-days").

Interesting footnote to this latest distribution of funds is that a hefty portion went to TV productions. One of them, Body of Proof, which looks to have a long run, moved their production from Rhode Island when that state discontinued/cut back their incentive program. As other states reevaluate the cost/benefit of their own incentive programs, there will continue to be an industry on the move. Can we get the hens back in the hen house? Time will tell.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Filmed in California: Avatar Will be Produced in Manhattan Beach

Filmed in California: Avatar Will be Produced in Manhattan Beach: "Build it and they will come served to be prophetic when Jon Landau of Lightstorm Entertainment saw the MBS Media Campus in Manhatttan Beach,..."

Avatar Will be Produced in Manhattan Beach

Build it and they will come served to be prophetic when Jon Landau of Lightstorm Entertainment saw the MBS Media Campus in Manhatttan Beach, where he plans to film the next two James Cameron Avatar movies. He signed a five year lease for two buildings that will house over 200 employees.

The 'almost perfect production paradigm' - big sound stages, state of the art intrastructure, and then all the accutrements for the regular non-blue people. The other tenants on the campus, equipment vendors and suppliers, make it possible to obtain much of what Lightstorm needs, right in their back yard.

Another piece of good news is that Body of Proof is moving to LA after Rhode Island's tax incentive plan looked shaky.

All in all, a good day.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm Sorry to See the Film Department Go

Last year Jim Horwitz and I met with some officers from the independent film production company, The Film Department. They were gracious and forthcoming about the issues facing independent producers. At the time of our meeting, they informed us that only about 25% of the independent producers were still in operation (about 11).

I'm sorry to say now there is one less, because The Film Department, despite making over $90 million dollars could not obtain financing to continue in operation. They were left with a film starring lovely Catherine Zeta Jones that was still looking for a distributor and might have to go direct to DVD. What a shame, they were the brightest and the best, and found it impossible to wring the necessary dollars out of the money-men to keep on making good and entertaining movies.

What is wrong with this picture. Everything! (I think that was a pun, but we'll let it pass.) They had to film where they could receive the best tax incentives, and guess what, it wasn't California. So we don't have to worry about their productions running away from California, because there is no longer a production company.

Oh, these talented people will find a way to make movies, or not. Maybe its too darn hard. What do you think?


Friday, April 15, 2011

Filming in California Still on the Decline

Location production of feature films in the city of Los Angeles and nearby parts of the county declined 5.3 percent in the first quarter versus last year.FilmL.A. who keeps track of this sort of thing pointed out that the decline in filming came despite the tax incentives offered by the state.

Shooting for television productions was also down in the first quarter -- by 3.7 percent -- with reality television shows showing the greatest decline, 6.4 percent.

FilmL.A. Chairman Ed Duffy said, "The latest data suggest a softness in the industry, but not a full loss of momentum. Pilot production is up and we have a couple big features in production, so we're optimistic about a better set of numbers come July."

So, where would we be without the tax incentives? Scary thought, even though the level of awareness of the importance of keeping filming in California for a boost to employment and a safety net for the economy is higher than ever before; more and more people are listening. But turning an ocean liner takes a long, long time. And the entertainment industry is a mammoth ship of industry.