L.A. plans campaign to promote new film tax credits

L.A. plans campaign to promote new film tax credits
Gov. Jerry Brown holds the new film tax credit bill he signed in front of TLC Chinese IMAX Theatre in Hollywood last year. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti achieved one of his top goals last year when he helped persuade state lawmakers to boost California's film and TV tax credits.

Now Garcetti and his film czar, entertainment industry attorney Ken Ziffren, face the tough task of persuading studios to use the program they lobbied so hard to create.


To that end, Garcetti and Ziffren are preparing an outreach campaign called "Greenlight Hollywood" to pitch the new incentives, which triple annual funding to $330 million a year and allow a broader swath of projects to qualify.

Over the next two months, Ziffren and his deputy Rajiv Dalal plan a series of visits with studio executives, managers, agents and financiers to promote the law and explain its new provisions. The California Film Commssion unanimously approved draft regulations for the program today.

"We will basically tout the bill, explain what it does and how we can help in terms of providing information they need," Ziffren said.

The idea is to contact studios before they make key decisions on what movies and TV shows to greenlight. Even with the new program, California still faces heavy competition from other states and countries that offer richer incentives.

"We need to speak with the greenlight committees, packaging agents and independent finance executives to make sure we get the right films and the right TV series here," said Dalal, director of the Los Angeles Film Office.

The state will hold a final lottery under the old program on April 1. The new program does away with the lottery and will allot funds based on how many jobs productions employ, among other criteria, such as the use of California visual effects companies and in-state production facilities.

The California Film Commission will handle applications for television shows May 11-17, while those for features will be held sometime this summer.

The new program for the first time allows all new TV shows to qualify, not just those on basic cable, as well as movies with budgets above $75 million. However, the 20%-25% credit applies only to the first $100 million of a movie's expenses, a restriction that may limit the appeal of the credit for producers of some large-budget features.

Separately, the city is working with FilmL.A. on a marketing effort to promote California's new incentives at industry events, film festivals and trade shows, such as the AFCI Locations Show in L.A. next month.

Garcetti also is expected to announce a plan next week to provide more staff and resources to coordinate and streamline filming requests between various city departments, addressing a long-standing complaint among filmmakers that L.A. is overly bureaucratic.

Twitter: @rverrier