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High On Hills

Oakland is finally shedding the shadow of its high-profile neighbour Swan Francisco and is an emerging destination for films of all genres

Oakland is the eighth-largest city in the state of California, US. It has everything lined up for any moviemaker. With diverse locations and favourable weather, the city boasts unique architecture ranging from Victorian, Edwardian, craftsman and contemporary.

Located in the east of San Francisco, Oakland has as many as 50 neighbourhoods, many of which are not even mentioned on the map. From downtown Oakland to the greater Central Business District, East Oakland and Lake Merritt, the scenic beauty is unbelievable. All the neighbourhoods have an assorted mix of striking facades – some with artwork of yesteryear while some showcase the ultimate quintessence of modernity.

The romantic ambience of Lake Merritt lit up by the necklace of lights is picturesque and pertinent for a romantic scene in any movie. The highlight: this is the only natural saltwater lake in the world. The rich traditional Chinatown recreates the magic of any Chinese setting, while umpteen temples and churches reveal how culturally diverse the city is.

The destination has its own claim to fame – a big oak forest, hiking in the hills, visit to the fortune cookie factory or historic homes that are beautifully spaced out all over the city. For night-time excursions, one can hit happening discotheques or lounges swarming with locals and visitors.

The city competes with its better-known neighbour San Francisco for filming. Less congestion, availability of excellent crew and its proximity to LA is slowly bringing this metropolis into the limelight. As well, the services provided by the Oakland film office and the tax incentive programme offered by the Californian government are attracting more and more directors to this city, which is apt for films of all genres.

INCENTIVE PROGRAMME

How the Tax Credit Works

Qualified taxpayers are allowed a credit against income and/or sales and use taxes, based on qualified expenditures, for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2011. Credits applied to income tax liability are not refundable. Only tax credits issued to an independent film may be transferred or sold to an unrelated party. Other qualified taxpayers may carryover tax credits for five years and transfer tax credits to an affiliate.

How much is allocated to the programme?

• $ 100 million annually beginning fiscal year 2009/2010 through fiscal year 2013/2014.

• $ 10 million of the annual funding shall be set aside for independent films.

How are the funds allocated?

Tax credits are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as funds are available within each fiscal year. On each day that applications are received, they will be selected at random via a daily lottery. The final credit allocation will be the lesser of: 1) the estimated reservation amount or 2) an amount based on final qualified spend.

What Types of Productions Qualify for the Programme?

To apply for the California Film Incentive Programme, a qualified motion picture must be one of the following:

• (Eligible for 20 per cent Tax Credit): Feature Films ($ 1 million minimum – $ 75 million maximum production budget); Movies of the week or miniseries

($ 500,000 minimum production budget)

• (Eligible for 25 per cent Tax Credit): An independent film ($ 1 million –

$ 10 million budget that is produced by a company that is not publicly traded and that publicly traded companies do not own more than 25 per cent of the producing company)

• A qualified motion picture must also meet the following conditions: 75 per cent test (production days or total production budget) in California, application must be submitted at least 30 days prior to principal photography and once application is approved, principal photography must begin within 180 days and post production must be completed within 30 months.

What expenditures qualify?

Qualified expenditures are amounts paid or incurred for the purchase or lease of tangible personal property and qualified wages for services performed in California.

The following costs are not qualified expenditures:

• Any costs incurred prior to application approval will not qualify for credits

• Wages paid to writers, directors, music directors, music composers, music supervisors, producers and performers, other than background actors with no scripted lines

• Expenses, including wages, related to new use, reuse, clip use, licensing, secondary markets, residual compensation or the creation of any ancillary produced including but not limited to, a soundtrack album, toy, game, trailer or teaser

• Expenses related to acquisition, development, turnaround or any rights thereto; financing, overhead, marketing, promotion, or distribution of a qualified motion picture

• State and Federal Income taxes

• Audit expenses alongwith Completion bond

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