The steely gaze of Na’vi warrioress Neytiri welcomes visitors at the entrance to some of Hollywood’s most wondrous and fantastical worlds. Towering in the corner of a hangar, an “Aliens” xenomorph menaces, frozen in place. Upstairs sits the Heart of the Ocean, daring passersby to never let go.
No, you’re not in Kansas anymore. You’re at Lightstorm Entertainment, the solar-powered, eco-friendly Manhattan Beach headquarters of Oscar-winning “Avatar” filmmakers James Cameron and Jon Landau.
Just a skip away on a massive soundstage, visual effects crews piece together top-secret scenes straight out of Pandora for “Avatar 2.” Oscar-winning VFX artist Richard Baneham tinkers with a “virtual camera,” constructing impossible shots by sending data back and forth to technicians seated at a NASA-like brain trust of computers.
Next door in a custom-built tank filled with 500,000 gallons of water, camera operators in flippers float on pool noodles, ready to shoot an aquatic stunt scene for that aforementioned first of four new “Avatar” sequels set to hit theaters in 2020.
Intel wants to help Hollywood embrace the next generation of immersive media: The chip maker officially announced the opening of a Los Angeles-based studio space dedicated to the production of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other types of cutting-edge content at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Monday.
The new facility, aptly named Intel Studios, features the world’s largest stage for volumetric video capture. At the center of it is a 10,000 square-feet dome designed to capture actors and objects in volumetric 3D, essentially producing high-end holographic content for VR, AR and the likes.
Another surge in scripted television shoots boosted location film production in the Los Angeles area for 2015, even as feature films and reality TV continued to slide.
On-location filming rose 1.3% to 37,289 total production days last year, according to newly released figures from FilmL.A. Inc. The data track filming on city and county streets and noncertified sound stages in the Los Angeles region.
Television production has grown in recent years thanks largely to the increased demand for original TV content. The rise of premium cable and new media players such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have increased competition across the television business.
Now that the California Film Commission has unveiled the first round of feature films to receive incentives under the state’s recently expanded tax credit program, producers are indicating that the new scheme is an anti-runaway success.
The tax credit of up to 25% is aimed at keeping the industry in California, despite more lucrative government incentives elsewhere.
Two of the titles that got allocations from the state are set in locales that consistently have lured runaways: New Line’s “Conjuring 2,” partially set in the U.K.; and “Why Him,” set in Michigan.
Besides “Conjuring 2,” perhaps the best-known among the 11 films conditionally selected on Aug. 18 are Warner Bros.’ CHiPs comedy, starring Dax Shephard; Alcon Entertainment’s “Chicken Soup for the Soul”; and an indie film version of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks.” The 11 films will receive a total of $55 million in credits, and were picked from 254 productions that had applied.
“Twin Peaks” creators Lynch and Mark Frost, whose film received a $2.5 million allocation, say that bringing the project back to California puts the picture “where it belongs.”
Two months after the California Film Commission board approved new regulations for the state’s film and television tax incentives, Sacramento has signed off. Today, the Office of Administrative Law approved the new regs pretty much as the CFC submitted them back in February.
This approval is in good time for the first application process under the new $330 million credits. With the much criticized lottery system now over, TV applicants can digitally submit their projects for potential incentives based on job creation centric criteria from May 11–17. Features get their first kick at the greatly increased incentives can from July 13-25. For the first time, projects with budgets over $75 million will be eligible for the film credits. The CFC estimates those successful applicants in both the film and TV categories will be informed within two weeks of their submission.
When Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last September a dramatic expansion of the state’s film and TV tax credit program, it was in many ways just the start of the new effort to lure production back to California.
On Thursday, the California Film Commission unanimously passed draft regulations that will govern how the $330 million in annual tax credits will be disbursed. The regulations now go to the state Office of Administrative Law for final approval, so there still could be changes.
The legislation more than tripled the amount of tax credits available to movie and TV projects, as well as expanded eligibility to include big-budget feature films, one-hour drama series and TV pilots. But perhaps the biggest change was in the way applicants will be awarded credits.
Legislation to expand California’s incentives for movie and TV production cleared the Assembly’s Revenue and Taxation Committee on Tuesday, as lawmakers try to respond to the flight of production to other states with a sweeter offering of tax credits.
There had been few doubts that the legislation, AB 1839, would make it out of the Revenue and Taxation Committee, whose chairman is Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, who co-authored the bill along with fellow Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto. The vote was 8-0.
The legislation would expand the incentive program to cover feature films with budgets over $75 million as well as new TV drama series, addressing the loss of such productions to other states. The legislation also has a special 5% credit for music scoring and editing, and Gatto said that they were working on additional provisions for post-production, as well as visual effects.
A new bill intended to expand and overhaul California’s current $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program passed its first legislative test today as the state Assembly’s Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, And Internet Media committee voted unanimously in support of the measure. Introduced on February 19, the California Film and Television Job and Promotion Act now moves to the Revenue and Taxation Committee and then the Appropriations committee as it heads its way to a full vote, a state Senate twin and eventually Gov. Jerry Brown‘s desk by the end of the summer. A long political route that AB 1839’s backers think will prove successful.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, appearing at a daylong Hollywood Chamber of Commerce event with his new film czar, Tom Sherak, laid out a blueprint for stemming the loss of film and TV production from Los Angeles.
The plan calls for a drastic reduction in red tape by the city; a push to increase the state’s $100 million in tax incentives, which are currently eclipsed by New York, Louisiana and Georgia, among others; and a public campaign to increase awareness of the importance of filmmaking to the local economy.
Eric Garcetti said today at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s second annual State of the Industry Conference that he is serious about getting state politicians to expand California’s $100 million annual Film/TV Tax Credit program. “We are going to go to Sacramento and storm that place like you’ve never seen before,” L.A.’s mayor said. In place since 2009, the current program “should be expanded because it makes good business sense,” he added. Garcetti also told the crowd that he wanted to launch a campaign to show people how production in LA benefits all businesses in the city. His remarks came after various speakers from both the industry and Sacramento criticized the current $100 million annual lottery system program as unstable, unrealistic and providing too little money.