Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hollywood hurts

There as a big article in LA Times this week about the fact that more TV series were filmed outside of Hollywood, which in turn means that a lot of technical people are out of work and some are losing their homes.

Ever since Canada began to offer tax credits and incentives to get American productions up there, a lot of states began to see the light and they started. Two of the biggest ones are Louisiana and New Mexico, both of whom offer incentives as good as Canada. And since the Canadian dollar is at par more or less, Canada has been losing business it had when it was 69 cents.

American productions still come to Canada but not as much and the big centers are Toronto and Vancouver, while the rest of the provinces get a movie or two. Alberta has an AMC series but Saskatchewan has dropped it's incentives.

These incentives are basically money given back after the production is finished. It's a little more complicated than the American states who give incentives. In Canada, a certain amount of people need to be Canadian citizens and in some cases residents of that particular province. 

The Federal program offers money back also but has a 6 point demand on the top jobs; writer, producer, director, actor, editor and DP and sometimes production designer. In order to get money back 6 of 10 points needs to be Canadian talent. And the production company has to be registered in Canada.

The U.S. system is a little different, residency doesn't always have to be from that particular state.

So what's the rebates or incentives worth? Well, most credits (incentive, rebate and credits are basically the same thing - money paid back to the production after an audit) pay anywhere from 10 to 35%, meaning that a $10 million movie could theoretically get $3.5 million paid back to the producers. Each state and province has their own limits but you can see the advantage.

Back in the USA, there are 23 new 1-hour dramas starting to film and only 2 are being filmed in Hollywood. Considering that a 22 episode 1-hour drama series has a budget of around $60 million it translates to 840 jobs, according to the LA Times.

Also consider that in 2005 80% of the drama series were done here, but now it's more like 10%.  Unions claim that there is a 30% unemployment in the movie town, which is three times as much as the national unemployment numbers.

Of course the Writer's Guild has around an 80% unemployment rate so they don't have much on us.

But unemployment is real and people are losing their homes. Some move to New Mexico or Louisiana which as I mentioned seemed the hottest. New York is doing well, having 4 times the amount of filming as compared to Hollywood.

But don't cry for Hollywood yet. Almost all the sitcoms are still made here.

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