Final California TV, Film Tax Credit Lottery Hugely Over-Subscribed

With better-funded and less arbitrary program coming, 246 applications are received and just 18 are accepted for review

Last Updated: April 2, 2015 @ 1:26 PM

TV and movie producers on Thursday received word on their applications and bid a not-so-fond farewell to California’s final lottery for production tax credits, which is about to be replaced by a broader and far better-funded version.

The California Film Commission didn’t release specifics on the projects, but did put out the the numbers. As has been the case since the program launched in 2009, the 246 applications far outnumbered the 18 projects selected for review, leaving 228 on the wait list. The goal is to stop the exodus of TV and film production from the state, most of which are lured by more lucrative credits offered by rival states.

California’s current program provides $100 million annually. The new plan ups that to $330 million for the next five years. It begins with the fiscal year 2015-2016 and replaces the arbitrary and much-criticized lottery with a more competitive program that factors in job creation and other benefits to the state into the selection process.

To be clear, no one minded getting the tax breaks, as evidenced by the number of applications. It was the lottery process and the fact that the funding was considerably below that offered by New York, Louisiana and other states the rankled applicants.

This year’s lottery was unusual in that it was limited to independent projects, because there were even fewer available slots open than in past years. That’s because a number of TV shows that are receiving credits were renewed and thus remained eligible for the funding.

As with past lotteries, it is expected that a significant number of wait list projects ultimately may be allocated tax credits, as approved projects may withdraw due to scheduling delays or other production-related factors. When a project withdraws, its credits are reassigned to the project next in line on the waiting list.

Projects selected for an allocation will not receive their tax credit certificates until post-production is completed and the California Film Commission has reviewed all required documentation, including audited cost reports.

The complete list of projects approved via the lottery for tax credit allocations will be released on July 1, the first day of the state’s fiscal year and the first day credits are available.

The new, vastly expanded Film & TV Tax Credit Program will begin with the May 11-17 application period for non-independent TV projects. Feature and independent film can apply from July 13-25.

The Commission is planning a series of webinars to help prospective applicants understand the program and application process. For notification of those dates and other credit-related information, see the film commission’s web site.