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Location versus budget… It’s a filmmaker’s eternal dilemma. Rohini Nag brings you a a fabulous destinations that don’t pinch. And for deeper insights into why they work, Q&A with Amy Lemisch, Executive Director, California Film Commission. Here are some tempting facts and figures you might like to save for future reference

What benefits does the Film Commission or the government offer foreign film producers?

The California Film Commission serves as a one-stop resource where foreign producers may access a wide range of services including film and TV tax credits, permits to use state-owned property, access to an extensive location library and production assistance.

How can a filmmaker approach you with a project to be shot in your region?

Detailed information about the California Film Commission services, staff members and industry-related resources is available on our website at http://film.ca.gov. We can also be reached via phone at (323) 860-2960.

Is there any potential for co-production for Indian film producers?

The United States does not have co-production treaties but many producers set up international co-productions.

What, according to you, makes the destination exquisite for filming an Indian film?

Productions from around the world benefit from California’s exceptional weather (315 days of sunshine per year), diverse locations (from 840 miles of coastline to vast desert sand dunes, and everything in between), plentiful and skilled crews, over 500 stages and the most advanced and diverse range of post-production facilities found anywhere.

Why should an Indian filmmaker shoot their production in your region?

California’s deep and talented labour pool (in front of and behind the camera) and vast production infrastructure are attractive to foreign-based producers. Filmmakers have worked closely with our network of more than 50 regional film offices, taking advantage of the diverse California landscape. The Sacramento Delta doubles for Asia or the American South, Mammoth Mountain stands in for the Himalayas, Antelope Valley for West Texas, and Mendocino County for the East Coast. Ridgecrest has doubled for the terrain of other planets in the universe. In addition to assistance from the California Film Commission, filmmakers can tap this network of skilled local film offices for logistical assistance.  A list of California’ local film offices can be found here: http://www.film.ca.gov/ca-regional-film-offices.htm

What are the tax incentives? Are there any different tax benefits if a producer associates for multiple projects?

California’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program provides tax credits to feature films and TV series that shoot 75 per cent of their shooting days in California. Tax credits of 25 per cent issued to independent producers may be transferred (sold) to a third party. Funding for this program was recently increased to $330 million per year.  Several Indian producers have successfully participated in this tax credit program. Please see http://www.film.ca.gov/Incentives.htm for program details.

Producers can also access local incentive programs such as the San Francisco Film Rebate program, which offers a refund of up to $600,000 on any fees paid to the City of San Francisco for a scripted or unscripted television episode or feature length film or documentary.

Can you share some anecdotes about film production in your region?

California hosts nearly 200 feature films every year and countless TV series, commercials, and documentaries. Some recent productions include Captain America – The Winter Soldier, Her, Academy Award winner Argo, Hangover Part 3, Neighbors, American Sniper, Inceptionand Transformers. Television series include CSI-NY, CSI-Miami, The Office, Scrubs,  Parenthood, Entourage, Modern Family, Mad Men.

Which Indian films have been shot here in the past?

Some recent Indian productions filmed in California include My Name Is Kahn starring Shah Rukh Khan and directed by Karan Johar, Broken Horses starring Vincent D’Onofrio directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Smuggling For Ghandidirected by Babu Subramaniam, currently in post-production.

Are there any post-production funds provided by the Film Commission?

California does not offer funds for post-production but tax credits are available for post-production costs if the production shoots in California.

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