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California Film Commission sees big jump in tax credit applications

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The California Film Commission saw a nearly 20% jump in the number applications for its annual film tax credit lottery.

The Film Commission said 380 projects had applied for a piece of the $100 million the state allocates annually for film and television projects. That's up nearly 18% from a year ago, when only 28 projects were approved for credits -- the same number that were approved on Monday.

Film Commission officials said the winning projects would be identified Tuesday, after applicants have been notified.

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In an effort to keep filming in California, the state provides a 20% to 25% tax credit for certain projects, such as movies with budgets of less than $75 million and new basic cable TV shows. Recipients can use the credits to offset any business or sales tax liability they have with the state.

About two dozen people waited in line Monday morning in the hallway outside the Film Commission's office on Hollywood Boulevard, which stopped accepting applications at 3 p.m.

Many arrived before the offices opened at 9 a.m. for a chance to enter the "lottery." Each project was assigned a number that was picked at random until the $100 million was used up.

“There’s a high demand for these tax credits,” said Amy Lemisch, executive director for the Film Commission. “There’s a mad rush.”

Competition for tax credits is fierce, Lemisch said.

Many applicants who do not receive help from the California Film Commission will move production and filming to other states such states as Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina that have aggressively courted the industry.

“We need to keep more production here,” Lemisch said.

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